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Title: My Adventures During the Late War - A narrative of shipwreck, captivity, escapes from French - prisons, and sea service in 1804-14
Author: O'Brien, Donat Henchy
Language: English
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                         MY ADVENTURES DURING
                             THE LATE WAR


                      [Illustration: D’H’O’Brien.

                     London Edward Arnold, 1902.]

                         MY ADVENTURES DURING
                             THE LATE WAR


                              IN 1804-14


                         DONAT HENCHY O’BRIEN

                              CAPT. R.N.

                        EDITED BY CHARLES OMAN

                      IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD

                       NEW EDITION, ILLUSTRATED

                             EDWARD ARNOLD

                        _All rights reserved._


While engaged during the last ten years in the task of mastering the
original authorities for the history of the Napoleonic wars, I have had
to peruse many scores of diaries, autobiographies, and journals of the
British military and naval officers who were engaged in the great
struggle. They vary, of course, in interest and importance, in literary
value, and in the power of vivid presentation of events. But they have
this in common, that they are almost all very difficult to procure. Very
few have been reprinted; indeed, I believe that the books of Lord
Dundonald, Kincaid, John Shipp, Gleig, and Mercer are well nigh the only
ones which have passed through a second edition. Yet there are many
others which contain matter of the highest interest, not only for the
historical student, but for every intelligent reader. From among these I
have made a selection of ten or a dozen which seem to me well worth

Among these is the present volume--the narrative of the three escapes of
Donat O’Brien from French captivity, and of his subsequent services in
the Mediterranean during the last years of the great French war. I
imagine that no prisoner--not excluding Baron Trenck himself--ever made
_three_ such desperate dashes for liberty as did this enterprising
Irish midshipman. It is fortunate that he found the leisure, and had the
skill, to narrate all his adventures. He had a talent for minute
description, a wonderful memory, and a humorous way of looking on the
world which will remind the reader of the spirit of Captain Marryat’s
naval heroes.

It is not, I think, generally known that O’Brien’s escapes actually
suggested to Marryat a great part of the plot of one of his best known
books--_Peter Simple_. In that excellent romance the narrator (it will
be remembered) actually escapes from Givet in company with an Irish
naval officer, and goes through a hundred perils before reaching safety.
It was a strange liberty to take with a living comrade, that Marryat
actually names _Peter Simple’s_ comrade O’Brien, and utilises many
touches from the real Donat’s adventures to make his tale vivid. In the
end the fictitious O’Brien plays a great part in the story and marries
the hero’s sister. What the retired captain thought, or said, on finding
himself thus liberally dealt with in a novel is not recorded. But I
fancy that he must have considered it hard that _Peter Simple_ should be
reprinted some thirty times, while his own most interesting book never
saw a second edition.

It is now very rare: in ten years of systematic searching of second-hand
book shops, in quest of old military and naval autobiographies, I have
only come on three copies of the work. I trust that by this edition it
may be brought once more to common knowledge.

The reader will find in it a most wonderful study of the life of a
hunted man, “a sort of Nebuchadnezzar living on cabbage stalks,” as
O’Brien styles himself, during his miserable lurking in the cliffs of
the Vosges. Almost as interesting is the sketch of the gloomy existence
of the thousand “refractory” British prisoners in the _souterrains_ of
the rock-fortress of Bitche. French writers have often denounced the
Portsmouth pontoons, on which so many of their compatriots were forced
to dwell. But they compare favourably with the underground dungeons in
which Napoleon confined O’Brien and many another British sailor. In
strong contrast with this part of the story is the short narrative of
life in Verdun, where the _détenus_ on parole seem to have been allowed
as much, and even more, liberty than was good for them. Roulette tables
and race meetings were demoralising luxuries for men suffering from
enforced idleness. From other sections of O’Brien’s narrative the reader
may obtain curious side-lights on many features of the Napoleonic
_régime_ in France--the ubiquity of the _gendarme_ and his natural prey,
the escaped conscript, the bare and squalid life of the peasantry, the
estrangement between the military caste and the _bourgeoisie_. There are
also glimpses of Germany during the existence of the _Rheinbund_, when
the people were united in a sort of tacit conspiracy against the
governments who had made themselves the tools of Bonaparte. Not least
interesting are the final chapters, in which O’Brien, free at last,
shows us how British naval ascendency was maintained in the Adriatic,
and helps us to realise the truth of the saying that “wherever a boat
could float Bonaparte’s power found its limit.” It was to no purpose
that he called himself king of Italy, annexed Dalmatia and Illyria, and
established his brother-in-law at Naples: three or four British
frigates, based on the island stronghold of Lissa, dominated the whole
seaboard, ransacked every estuary, and destroyed whatever naval force
was sent against them--even though it was on paper twice their own
strength. Hoste’s battle of 13th March 1811 was, as far as mere
disparity of numbers goes, a victory that can be compared to St. Vincent
alone among all the long list of British successes at sea.

I have ventured to cut short O’Brien’s narrative at the end of the
Napoleonic war. It went no further in his own first draft, which (as I
have stated in the succeeding biographical note) was compiled before
1815. When he published his two-volume book, in 1839, he subjoined to
his narrative of captivity and naval service three long chapters,
detailing his visits and rambles in England and Ireland during the years
of his middle age, his cruise to Brazil and Chile in 1818-21, and his
continental tour with his wife in 1827. In these 150 pages there is so
little matter to interest either the historical student or the general
reader, that I have thought it well to omit them. For O’Brien, as for so
many other British soldiers and seamen, “the joy of eventful living”
ended in 1815.

For this excision, and for certain other small cuttings, I think that I
may appeal with a clear conscience for the pardon that editors are wont
to demand.


OXFORD, _September 1902_.


Donat Henchy O’Brien was born in County Clare during the month of March
1785. Of his odd combination of names, the first was one common in the
sept of the O’Briens since the earliest ages: it has nothing to do with
St. Donatus, as the casual reader might suppose, but represents the old
Erse Donough or Donoght.[1] His second name came from his mother, a Miss
Henchy, sister of Counsellor Fitz-Gibbon Henchy, a Dublin lawyer of some
repute in his day. Of Donat’s father we find nothing more in O’Byrne’s
_Naval Biography_ than the characteristically Hibernian statement that
“he was descended from one of the ancient monarchs of Ireland.”

Donat O’Brien entered the navy on 16th December 1796, when only eleven,
starting even younger than the average of the midshipmen of those hard
days. Apparently he owed his introduction to the service to Captain
(afterwards Rear-Admiral) Edward Walpole Brown, whom he styles “his
early patron.” His first vessel was the _Overyssel_ (64), a Dutch
line-of-battle ship which had been seized in Cork Harbour in 1795,
where it was lying when Holland was forced to yield to France and to
become her subservient ally. In this vessel he served for three years,
under Captains Young and Bazely, mainly in the North Sea squadron. He
was present in her at the surrender of the Dutch fleet in the Texel on
30th August 1799, during the futile campaign of the Duke of York. Later
in the same year the _Overyssel_ was engaged in the blockading of three
Dutch men-of-war which had run into the port of Goeree. While in charge
of an old merchant ship, which was to be sunk at the mouth of the
harbour, for the more effectual shutting in of the fugitives, O’Brien
was in great peril. The vessel was overset in a sudden gale, and he had
a narrow escape from drowning, being saved at the last moment by a boat
of the _Lion_ cutter.

From the _Overyssel_ O’Brien passed in December 1801 to the _Beschermer_
(54), another Dutch prize,[2] commanded by Captain Alexander Frazer. He
was in her but a few months, as she was laid up in Ordinary at Chatham
when the long negotiations for an accommodation with France were seen to
be coming to a successful conclusion. In the spring of 1802, when the
Peace of Amiens had been signed, O’Brien sailed in the _Amphion_, a
32-gun frigate, where he again had Captain Frazer as his chief. During
the short suspension of hostilities the frigate was first cruising in
British waters to suppress smuggling, and then engaged in a short cruise
to Lisbon.

In January 1803 O’Brien completed his six years of service as a
midshipman, and went up to London to pass his lieutenant’s examination.
This being accomplished with success, he returned for a short time to
the _Amphion_, but was in a few months moved, as a master’s mate, to
the _Hussar_, a new 38-gun frigate commanded by Captain Philip

The name _Hussar_ was unlucky: the last ship that had borne the name, a
28-gun frigate, had been lost by shipwreck off the French coast on 27th
December 1796, the greater part of her crew being made prisoners. Her
successor was to have precisely the same fate less than a year after she
had been put into commission. She sailed from Spithead in May 1803,
immediately after the rupture of the Peace of Amiens, and was cruising
in the North Atlantic and in the Bay of Biscay during the first months
of the war. During the winter the _Hussar_ was ordered to join Sir
Edward Pellew’s squadron off the coast of Spain, and was lying with him
in Ares Bay, near Ferrol, when she was ordered home with despatches.
Captain Wilkinson was told to communicate on the way with the Channel
Fleet, which was lying off Cape Finisterre, under Admiral Cornwallis,
engaged in the blockade of Brest. It was this diversion into French
waters which caused the loss of the _Hussar_. On 8th February 1804 she
ran ashore on the _Saintes_ rocks, and became a total wreck. The
majority of the crew struggled ashore and fell into the hands of the

Here Donat O’Brien’s own narrative begins. He may be left to tell the
tale of his own misfortunes and adventures from February 1804 till
October 1813. Suffice it to say that he was a prisoner at Givet from
28th March till 16th July 1804. He was then transferred to Verdun, where
he lay interned till the August of 1807, when he made his first dash for
liberty in company with three other naval officers--Lieutenant Essel and
two midshipmen named Ashworth and Tuthill. After making their way
through countless dangers as far as Étaples on the coast of Picardy,
they were seized by _douaniers_ when actually in sight of the sea and
the English cruisers in the Channel. Their status being soon discovered,
they were sent back to prison, after an Odyssey which had lasted from
the 28th of August to the 18th of September 1807.

After recapture O’Brien and his companions were told off for confinement
in the mountain-fort of Bitche, a bleak fastness in the Vosges,
appropriated to refractory or undesirable prisoners of war. While on
their journey thither, escorted by mounted _gendarmes_, the prisoners
had a chance of escape--they made a sudden dash for a neighbouring wood
and ran for their lives. In their flight they soon lost sight of each
other, and, while the others were recaptured, O’Brien got away. He made
for the nearest neutral frontier, that of Austria, and nearly reached
his goal. After passing the Rhine, crossing the Black Forest, and
working far into Bavaria, he was arrested on suspicion at Lindau on the
Lake of Constance. It was soon discovered that he was an escaped English
prisoner, and the Bavarian Government sent him back under escort to
France. His second futile attempt to escape had covered the period from
15th November to 30th November 1807.

His two desperate dashes for freedom secured O’Brien a place in the most
miserable subterranean casemate of Bitche. Nevertheless, after a year’s
captivity this undaunted master’s mate once more escaped--this time in
company with a midshipman named Hewson, a dragoon officer named Batley,
and a surgeon named Barklimore. Having constructed a rope, they let
themselves down from the three concentric walls of Bitche, a height of
200 feet in all, and got clear away.

This time fortune was with O’Brien. He and two of his companions (the
third, Captain Batley, fell ill at Rastadt and had to be left behind)
crossed South Germany in safety, and reached the Austrian frontier not
many miles from Salzburg. The local officials politely acquiesced in a
transparent fiction by which the fugitives pretended to be Americans,
and allowed them to proceed to Trieste, where they were picked up by a
boat of the _Amphion_, one of O’Brien’s old ships. The third voyage of
this much-travelled man had lasted from 15th September to 7th November

We need not linger over his service in the Mediterranean on the
_Amphion_, _Warrior_, and _Bacchante_. Suffice it to say that he became
a lieutenant on 29th March 1809, and was promoted to the rank of
commander on 22nd January 1813. He had seen much service during these
four years, and had once been severely wounded in an unsuccessful
attempt to board and capture a Venetian _trabaccolo_ off Trieste. The
most important action in which he was engaged was Commodore Hoste’s
victory off Lissa on 13th March 1811.

On being promoted to the rank of commander, O’Brien had to return to
England, no ship being available for him in the Mediterranean. He
arrived at Portsmouth on 4th October 1813, and took for some months a
well-earned holiday. He was in hopes of seeing service against the
Americans, but the times were unpropitious. Both the Napoleonic and the
American wars were coming to an end, and, like so many other energetic
naval and military men, O’Brien found himself placed on half-pay in

He only had one more turn of service afloat, in command of the _Slaney_,
a 20-gun sloop, which cruised on the South American station from 1818 to
1821. The rest of his life--he was still only thirty-six years of
age--was spent in enforced retirement: in the thirties and forties the
navy was kept low, and there was little prospect of work for the
half-pay captain.

On 28th June 1825 O’Brien married Hannah, youngest daughter of John
Walmsley of Castle Mere, Lancashire, by whom he became the father of a
large family, seven children in all. Two years after, he took his wife
for a long tour round northern France, to show her the places of his
imprisonments and escapes. It was this revisiting of old scenes that
caused him to write the book which we have here reprinted. But he did
not publish it till 1839, when it appeared, dedicated by permission to
the young Queen Victoria. He had, however, already put out long before a
shorter narrative of his escape, from which the two-volume book of 1839
was expanded. It had appeared in the _Naval Chronicle_ for the years
1812-15, in the strange form of sixteen “Naval Bulletins” addressed to
no less a person than the Emperor Napoleon. The dedication of this
original draft deserves reproduction--it runs as follows:--

     “As your Imperial Majesty has long delighted in the compilation of
     endless Bulletins, as they are styled, in which truth and candour
     are never suffered to appear, it may perhaps amuse you, during some
     of these pauses which occasionally occur in your systematic
     destruction and humiliation of your fellow-creatures, to be enabled
     to hear a little truth, and to trace the manner in which such a
     humble individual as myself bade defiance to your persecutions,
     and has at length returned to his duty as a naval officer,
     notwithstanding all the dungeons, fetters, and insults which
     distinguished your reign of despotism.”

The last of the “Naval Bulletins” appeared in the same number of the
_Naval Chronicle_ as a narrative by Henry Ashworth, one of the
companions of O’Brien’s first escape. From this, an incomplete story,
which Ashworth did not survive to finish, certain parts of O’Brien’s
tale can be corroborated and expanded.

O’Brien was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral on 8th March 1852. He
survived five years more, and died on 13th May 1857 at Yew House,
Hoddesdon, in his seventy-third year.

The not very flattering portrait of him which we have reproduced as our
frontispiece was drawn by J. Pelham and engraved by J. Brown for the
book of 1839.






 The _Hussar_ Frigate is sent home with Despatches, and wrecked on the
 _Saintes_--Efforts to save the Ship--Attempt to escape in the Boats
 foiled by bad Weather--A Surrender to the Enemy                 Page 1


 A kind Reception by the Enemy--Our Shipmates all
 Prisoners--Consolations under Misfortunes--Prisoners sent to
 the Hospital at Brest--Robbery by a French Seaman--Running the
 Gauntlet--Dilemma of wearing or giving up a Sword--Kindness of the
 French Nuns--Orders to march into the Interior--Wounded Pride and
 Hard Fare--Bad Faith of the Minister of Marine--The March begins for
 Verdun--Arrival at Landernau--Aristocratic Differences in Rates of Pay
 or Allowances amongst Republicans--Landiviziau--An Illustration of
 Equality--Morlaix to Rennes--Prisoners and Vermin--Vitré--English Dogs
 at a French Inn--Laval--A Spectacle for the Mob--Alençon--Difficulties
 increased--Part of the Crew separated from their Officers--Our Arrival
 at Rouen--An honest Gaoler and his amiable Wife--A moderate Bill for
 Gaol Fare--_Bons Garçons_ in a Prison--Our Arrival at Amiens--English
 Sympathy for suffering Countrymen                               Page 7


 Departure from Amiens--Arrival at Albert--Our French Officer’s
 Delicacy and Liberality--A Civic Feast at Bapaume--Effects
 of Champagne on French Aldermen--A Separation from our kind
 Conductor--A New Escort--A forced March to Cambray--Pitiable
 State and severe Sufferings of the Seamen--Entrance into
 Cambray--Imprisonment--Landrecies, Avesnes, Hirson--A Billet upon
 the Inhabitants--Rocroy--A brutal Landlord--The Robbery and Abuse of
 Prisoners--Givet--Charlemont--A Description of the Fortifications--An
 Escape of Prisoners--A fruitless Pursuit--Generosity of the French
 Commandant--Private Lodgings--A Jacobin Landlady--Exhausted Funds--The
 4th of June--Honours done to King George the Third’s Birthday--Roast
 Beef and Plum Pudding--French Terrors of Insurrection--The Difference
 between taking off and only touching Hats in saluting Men in
 Authority--Good News--A joyful Departure in a cart for Verdun   Page 26


 Our Arrival at Verdun--A joyful Reception--General Wirion--His
 Indulgence towards the Prisoners--The Meetings of old Shipmates
 and Friends--Mental Employment the best Antidote against _Ennui_
 and Dissipation--Restiveness at Confinement--Anxiety to be
 again in the Active Service of Old England--Meditations upon an
 Escape--Contrivances to avoid a Breach of Parole or any Breach
 of Honour--Three Comrades or _Compagnons de Voyage_--Scaling
 Ramparts--A Descent of Seventy-two Feet--The Open Country--The March
 commences--Flying by Night, and hiding in Woods by Day--Heavy Rains,
 Dismal Roads, and Swampy Beds, with Bad Fare and Good Hearts--Leaping
 a Moat--A Dislocated Knee--The March resumed, and pursued lamely--The
 Town of Neuville--Extreme Sufferings from Thirst--Water at length
 procured, Anguish allayed, and the Escape proceeded upon with renewed
 Spirits                                                         Page 43


 The Journey pursued--A Bivouac in a Wood--Dangers of being
 Shot--Making free with an Orchard--Crossing the Oise--A Mode of
 obtaining Provisions--A Cabaret and a Village _Fête_--Kindness
 of the Peasantry--Petit Essigny--Wringing drenched Garments, and
 Drying them over fading Embers--A miserable Landlord--A Change of
 Quarters--Luxuries of a Hay-loft--A Samaritan of a Hostess--Wretched
 Sufferings of Mr. Essel--Resort to another Village--A kind
 Landlord--Sympathies for Deserters--“A Fellow-feeling makes Men
 wondrous Kind”--The Luxuries of a Clean Bed--Resort to another
 Village--A motherly Hostess--A lucky Road-acquaintance--Virtue
 and Happiness in humble Life--The charitable Baker--Dangers
 from Sportsmen to Gentlemen hiding in Woods--Mr. Essel’s
 Illness disappearing--Increased Speed not always safe to
 Fugitives--Coldness of the Weather--An hospitable Farmer--A French
 Harvest-home--Hesdin--Neuville--Étaples--Turned out of a Straw Bed--A
 new Inn, with a _Gendarme_ in Disguise in the Kitchen--Bribing
 a Landlord--No Boat to be had--An old Shepherd too cunning for
 a young Lieutenant and Midshipmen--Extreme Difficulties--High
 Hopes--Despondency and Resources                                Page 63


 A False Direction and an Appalling Repulse--A Bribe refused--A Deluge,
 and Shelter in a Barn--A fatal Resolution--Dangers of Fugitives
 journeying by Daylight--A Market-day at Étaples--Passing through
 Crowds not very convenient for runaway Prisoners of War--An Attempt
 to reach the Sand-hills on the Coast--A Bold Progress through a
 Despicable Village--The last House--Parching Thirst, and begging for
 a Draught of Water--An Acquiescence or Reply in the shape of two
 Custom-house Officers--Our Capture--A clever Fiction well devised,
 better sustained, and totally defeated--Getting rid of suspicious
 Goods--An Examination before the Mayor--Americanism and the American
 Gentleman--An awkward Exposure--A _Mittimus_ to Boulogne Gaol--An
 Examination of our Persons and Clothes--Our Fate sealed and Hope
 destroyed                                                       Page 90


 Our Entrance into the Gaol of Boulogne--Tantalising Sight of Old
 England’s Flag and white Cliffs--A Gaoler’s Supper and a conscientious
 Bill--Another Examination--The Route to Verdun--Arras--The Gaoler
 kind, and the Commandant full of Indulgence--Bapaume--The Baker,
 and Inquiries for our lost Money--Cambray--Cateau-Cambresis and its
 horrible Dungeon--Landrecies--Our Awkwardness in Chains, Handcuffs,
 and Fetters--My Dislike to them--Avesnes--Information that we were to
 be Shot--The Dungeon of Avesnes--A dungeon Companion who had killed
 and cut up both his Parents--A Night of Horrors and Lunacy--Hirson,
 a Town without a Gaol, but with a Dungeon--A Supper and its
 Consequences--The Discovery of our Implements of Escape--Maubert
 Fontaine--A new Dungeon and a Fellow-prisoner--Reciprocal
 Services--A novel Mode of hiding Pistol-barrels--Chaining Prisoners
 to a Cart--Mezières--Arrival at Verdun--Separated from my
 Companions--Reflections on being Shot--A close Examination--Questioned
 in relation to Buonaparte--Allowed to join my old Associates--Another
 Cross-examination--A Recommittal to Prison--Our Fate determined--The
 Dungeon of Bitche--The Rev. Lancelot C. Lee, a _détenu_--His
 Generosity                                                      Page 100


 Our Departure from Verdun for Bitche--Mars-la-Tour, Metz,
 and Sarrelouis--I receive a useful Present from Mr.
 Brown--Sarreguemines--A last Chance--A mounted Guard--Thoughts of an
 Escape--Calculations upon a Chase in a Wood between Horse-soldiers
 and Prisoners on Foot--Attempt resolved upon--Signal given--Flight
 from the Prison Caravan to the Wood--French Pursuit--A Prisoner
 recaptured--My Escape from the Wood into another--My Companions,
 I fear, less fortunate--My Concealment--A swampy Bed and a stormy
 Sky, with a Torrent of Rain, for a Canopy--A prospective Flight
 of nearly 800 Miles--The Misery of a fruitless Search for lost
 Companions--Feeding on Haws, and herding with Quadrupeds and
 Vermin--A Hut discovered--Hunger compels me to enter--A Compromise,
 a Bribe, Female Advocacy, and an Escape--On the Road to the Rhine--A
 Preparation to sell Life dearly--A narrow Escape--Living on
 Cabbage-Stalks and raw Turnips--Bad Feet and worse Health--A lonely
 House near a Wood--Strong Temptations to Enter--A brutal Host, extreme
 Danger, and a narrow Escape--Bad Specimens of Human Nature      Page 116


 An inclement Season--A Retreat in a Cavern-Somnambulism--The Discovery
 of a Shepherd’s Hut--A Traveller put out of a wrong Road--Swimming
 in a Winter’s Night--Passing through a Mill--A suspicious Traveller
 may be an honest Man--A Lorraine Cottage seen through a Fog--Dangers
 from over-kind People--Repugnance to be introduced to a Mayor or
 any other good Society--Concealment in a hollow Willow--An honest
 Fellow-traveller of fugitive Reminiscences--An ingenious Fiction--A
 Perspective of Strasbourg                                       Page 131


 The Banks of the Rhine--Contemplations on crossing the River
 irregularly--Difficulties of finding a legal Passage--Mistaking
 two armed Officers for two harmless Fishermen--An appeal to
 Feelings, and a national Assurance of Patriotism--Cattle crossing
 the Bridge of Kehl--An Intermixture with the Cattle, and a Passage
 over the Rhine--Joy of being out of France--A Progress towards
 Friburg--Contrast between a warm Featherbed and bivouacking in
 the Mud--An innocent Landlord clever at a Guess--An Escape round
 Friburg--A Night’s Rest--_En route_ to Constance--A Village
 Inn--A Countryman for a Waiter, and a long Gossip upon Personal
 Histories and Native Places--The Inconsistencies of Superstition and
 Hunger--My Approach to Constance--Effects on the Mind produced by its
 magnificent Scenery and beautiful Lake--Crossing a Branch of Lake
 Constance--Leaving the Kingdom of Würtemberg and entering the Kingdom
 of Bavaria--A Night’s rest in a Bavarian Village--_La route_ to
 Lindau--Outmarching an Enemy--The Gate to Lindau--Successfully passing
 the Sentinels--Elation of Spirits--An awkward Querist--Unsuccessful
 Invention--A Capture--Examination and Imprisonment--Bitter Reflections
 upon my cruel Destiny                                           Page 146


 A fresh Incarceration--Stripping a Prisoner naked a more
 effectual detainer than Chains and Padlocks--Hopes of Escape
 prove delusive--Gaol Surgery and Gaol Diet--A timely Loan of
 Books--A short Visit from a Swiss Captive--Orders to prepare
 for a Return to France--A heavy Chain and huge Padlock--The Mob
 at Lindau--Leave-taking between a Prisoner and the Gaoler and
 Gaoler’s Wife--the Road to France--Going to Bed in Chains--Strict
 Watching--Chances of a Rescue--Anticipations of the Horrors of
 Bitche--Commiseration of my Guards--Crossing the Bridge of Kehl--A
 Surrender to the French _Gendarmes_--Captivity in the Military Gaol
 of Strasbourg--A kind Gaoler and as kind a Wife--His Gratitude
 for English Kindness when a Prisoner of War--Examined by the
 Police--Affectionate leave-taking of the honest Gaoler and his
 Wife--On the Road to Bitche heavily chained to Eleven Corsicans going
 to suffer Military Execution--The horrible Dungeon of Niederbronn--A
 revolting Night’s Confinement--Dreadful Sufferings of two of the
 Corsican Soldiers--Distant Prospects of Bitche--Anticipations of a
 cruel Confinement--Arrival at the Fortress                      Page 174


 Conjectures of the Prisoners as to my Country and Crimes--Inferences
 from my Chains that I had committed Murder--Mr. Ashworth and Mr.
 Tuthill, with Mr. Baker, rejoin me--Lieutenant Essel dashed to Pieces
 in attempting to descend the Ramparts of Bitche--My Grief at his
 Death--The immense Height of the Ramparts--My Horrible Dungeon--Its
 revolting State of Filth--Interview with the Commandant--An
 Application to be allowed to take the Air granted for Two Hours a
 Day--Meditations upon an Escape--Our Efforts baffled--A Christmas
 Night in a Dungeon--Reminiscences of Home and Friends--A Sentinel
 firing on his Prisoners--I am removed to a Cell with Fifty
 Prisoners--Again removed to a higher Cell, with only Twelve--Improved
 Condition--Hear of a Scheme of the Prisoners below to effect their
 Escape--Contrive to join them--Stratagem to drown the Noise of
 Working-tools--Successful Undermining--Noise in Opening the Third
 Door--Sentinels alarmed--The Guards enter--Search and discover our
 Engineering--Fury of the French Officers--Mr. Brine, answering to the
 name of O’Brien, is captured instead of me--I escape from the Dungeon
 and regain my own Cell--Feign Illness, and avoid Suspicion      Page 191


 A Trial at Metz--English Officers sentenced to the Galleys--Forging
 and using false Passports--The Consequences--A new Scheme of
 Escape--A favourable Night but unfavourable Sentinels--A Farewell
 Dinner--Another Attempt at Escape--A Descent of Ramparts by a
 Rope--Concealment in a Ditch--Rolling down a Glacis--An Adieu to
 the Mansion of Tears--Making towards the Rhine--Concealment in a
 Wood--Refuge in a Vineyard--Shooting a Fox--Disturbed in our Lair--A
 Flight and its Dangers--The Banks of the Rhine--Passing the River--A
 Joyful Escape into neutral Territory--Prospective Comforts of an Inn,
 and Refreshment.....Page 215


 Refreshments at a Village Inn--The Town of Rastadt--A civil
 Traveller--Good Accommodation--Baden--Awkward Rencontre with a
 Royal Party--An Alarm about Passports--A Genteel Inn dangerous to
 Fugitive Travellers--The Advantages of a Drunken Landlord--The
 Town of Hornberg--To Kriemhieldsach, after passing the Black
 Forest--Banditti--The Murder of a French General--A German Inn and a
 rustic Dance--The Town of Tütlingen--A Concealment of Eight Days--Vain
 Attempts to smuggle Passports--Progress of our Journey--Crossing
 the Iller--Leaving Würtemberg and entering Bavaria--The Progress
 of our Flight--Kaufbeuern--An inquisitive Landlord and frightened
 Guests                                                          Page 232


 Leaving Kaufbeuern on the Left Hand--Crossing the Wardach and
 the Lech--A welcome Ferry-boat--The Town of Weilheim--A long and
 exhausting March--The Soporific of Fatigue--The Ferry over the River
 Inn--Frightened at a Soldier--A false Alarm--Crossing the River--The
 Town of Reichenhall--Our Approach to the Bavarian Frontiers--The
 Increase of Dangers--Passing Barriers with Success--A Supposition
 that we were in the Austrian Dominions--A woeful Miscalculation and
 a narrow Escape from its fatal Consequences--An unexpected Demand
 for Passports--An Evasion--The Bavarian and Austrian Confines--Our
 extreme Danger--Anticipating the Galleys--A Track through a Wood
 at the foot of a Mountain--A Flight--The Boundary passed, and the
 Fugitives in the Emperors Dominions--Soldiers in Ambush--The Fugitives
 captured--Feigning to be Americans from Altona--Rage of the Bavarian
 Guard at being outwitted                                        Page 247


 Our Arrival at Salzburg--The Director of Police--Perseverance in
 our Tale of being Americans--Suspected of being Spies--Austrian
 Feelings favourable towards England and Englishmen--Confession
 of the Truth--Treated well as English Officers--An excellent
 Inn--A kind Governor--Great Civility--Despatches from
 Vienna--Passports ordered for us--A Remittance of Money from
 Vienna--Passports for Trieste--Our Journey--German Students and Dog
 Latin--Clagenfurt--Laibach--Banditti--A Mountain Scene--An Irish
 Watch-fire--Arrival at Trieste--Ecstasies at beholding the Gulf and
 the English Frigate in the Offing--Our Embarkation--Picked up by the
 _Amphion’s_ Boat--An old Friend and Shipmate--Discovering an Enemy--A
 desperate and unsuccessful Fight--The Killed and Wounded--Shot through
 the Right Arm--Valour of Lieut. G. M. Jones--His Wound--Excessive
 Kindness of the _Amphion’s_ Captain and Officers--The _Spider_
 Brig--Corfu--Malta--Sir Alexander Ball--Unexpected Meeting with
 old Friends escaped from Bitche--Promoted to a Lieutenancy in the
 _Warrior_ (a seventy-four)--The Glories of the Naval Service opened to
 me                                                              Page 263


 Receiving a Lieutenancy--Lord Collingwood’s Kindness--Joining
 the _Warrior_--An unexpected Supply of Dollars--An Accident at
 Sea--Capture of Ischia and Procida--Expedition against the Ionian
 Isles--Joining the _Amphion_--Captain Hoste’s Activity in the
 Adriatic--Commodore Dubourdieu and his Squadron at Ancona--Chasing
 the Enemy--A Wild-goose Pursuit--Success at Last--A glorious Battle
 and a splendid Victory--Details of the Action at Lissa--My Return to
 England--Interview with the First Lord of the Admiralty--A Visit to
 Ireland--A Solicitation from Captain Hoste to Join the _Bacchante_
 as First Lieutenant--Revisiting the Mediterranean--Provoking the
 Enemy--They provoking us--A Capture--Unhappy Loss of Prizes--An
 inexplicable Accident--Extraordinary Explosion of a French Frigate--A
 Flag of Truce--Venice--Corfu--Capture of Flotilla.....Page 287


 Capture of General Bordé and his Staff--A gallant Boarding Exploit--A
 horrible Murder by Italian Prisoners of War--Success of our Navy--A
 Balance of Accounts--My Promotion--Quitting the _Bacchante_--Pain of
 leaving old Friends and brave Shipmates--The Plague at Malta--Captain
 Pell gives me a Passage Home--An ineffectual Chase and a narrow
 Escape--Stratagems of the Enemy--Toulon--Gibraltar--The English
 Channel--Ingenious Device of Captain Pell, resulting in the curious
 Capture of a French Privateer--Arrival in England--A kind Reception by
 the First Lord of the Admiralty--An Official Promise--“Hope deferred
 maketh the Heart sick”--A Return to London--The Peace of 1814--Its
 Consequences--Half-Pay and an End to all Adventures             Page 331


 Letter of Barklimore to O’Brien                                 Page 339


PORTRAIT OF CAPTAIN O’BRIEN                            _Frontispiece_





CAPTURE OF A FRENCH FLOTILLA OFF OTRANTO                         328


(1) Verdun-Étaples (2) Sarreguemines-Lindau (3) Bitche-Salzburg.

[_The names of the French Departments of 1806-8 are indicated
thus_--=Aisne-Forêts= _etc._]]


     The _Hussar_ Frigate is sent home with despatches, and wrecked on
     the _Saintes_--Efforts to save the ship--Attempt to escape in the
     boats foiled by bad weather--A surrender to the enemy.

It was on Monday, the 6th February 1804, that the _Hussar_ made sail
from Ares Bay in Spain, being bound for England with despatches, from
our commodore Sir Edward Pellew, and with orders first to communicate
with our Channel Fleet off Brest. We had a fresh breeze from the S.W.;
and on the succeeding day (Tuesday, 7th) the wind and weather were
nearly the same. At noon, to the best of my recollection, we were in
lat. 46° 50´, Ushant bearing N. 37° E., distant 113 or 114 miles.

On Wednesday (8th) the wind and weather were the same, and we were
steering, as nearly as I can recollect, N.E. by E., and running nine
knots an hour. Every heart was elated with the joyful expectation of
being safely moored in a few hours in the land of liberty. Some were
employed in writing to their friends and relatives; but, alas! how frail
and delusive are the hopes of man! How differently had our lot been
decreed! The happy arrival, with many, never took place. With all the
others it was long delayed; and the vicissitudes and miseries we were
doomed to suffer will amply appear in the subsequent pages.

It was upon this fatal Wednesday, at about 10.45 P.M., whilst steering
this course of N.E. by E., and running at the rate of about seven knots
an hour, in dark and hazy weather, the _Hussar_ struck upon the
southernmost point of the _Saintes_. We beat over an immense reef of
rocks, carried away our tiller in several pieces, unshipped the rudder,
and, from the violence of beating over the reef, we damaged the ship’s
bottom so considerably that the leak became very serious. At length we
got into deep water, and let go our bower anchors, to prevent being
dashed to pieces on the immense rocks ahead. We got our top-gallant
yards and masts on deck, and used every possible means to lighten the
ship. The greater part of the crew were kept at the pumps; whilst the
remainder, with the officers, were employed in staving the water-casks
in the hold, in shoring the ship up, as the ebb tide was making and she
was inclining to starboard, and in doing all that was deemed expedient
to the safety of the ship. All was unavailing. The carpenter reported
that she was bilged; and we could distinctly hear the rocks grinding and
working through her as the tide fell.

At daylight Mr. Weymouth (the master) was sent to sound for a passage
amongst the rocks, on the supposition that we might be able to buoy the
ship through, but he returned without success; though, had he
accomplished it, from the state the ship was in, there could have been
little hope of getting her out. A division of the seamen and marines,
with their respective officers, was then ordered to take possession of
the island, that in the last extremity there might be an asylum secured
for the men and officers. The rest of the crew remained at the pumps,
but with no success, as the leak kept gaining upon them. The island was
taken without any opposition, the only people on it being a few
distressed fishermen and their families.

About 11 A.M. we began to land the crew, no hopes remaining of being
able to save our ship. However, the remainder of the people kept still
working at the pumps, waiting the return of the boats. At noon, the
flood making strongly, and we fore-reaching withal, Captain Wilkinson
gave directions to let go the sheet-anchor, which was immediately done.
Strong gales from S.W.

_February 9th._--By about 1 P.M. everybody was safely landed, with two
or three pigs and some biscuit, which were the only subsistence we had
secured. Captain Wilkinson and Mr. Weymouth came in the last boat. At
about 1.30 P.M. Lieutenant Pridham, with Messrs. Carey, Simpson, and
Thomas (three warrant-officers), and myself, were ordered by the captain
to return to the ship, to cut her masts away, and destroy everything we
could possibly get at. On our arrival on board, the water was nearly
square with the combings of the lower deck. At about 3.30 P.M. we
quitted her, having executed with the greatest accuracy the duty we were
ordered upon: the wind still increasing, left us but little hope of her
hanging together for the night.

We joined the officers and crew in a small church; and this was the only
place on the island where we could conveniently take up our residence.
The weather was excessively inclement during the night. At daylight,
discovering the ship still apparently whole, Captain Wilkinson
despatched Mr. Pridham and Mr. Mahoney (master’s mate), with a party of
men, to destroy her by fire. The other officers and people were employed
in equipping thirteen fishing-boats, which belonged to the
inhabitants,[3] for the purpose of transporting the ship’s company,
either to our fleet off Brest or to England, as circumstances might
admit. Mr. Pridham and his party returned, and the report of the ship’s
guns announced the execution of the duty they had been sent upon.

On the 10th, at about 1.30 P.M., our boats were in readiness, it then
blowing hard from the S.W. We all embarked in them. I had the honour to
command one, with twenty-five men; Captain Wilkinson, with the master,
leading in the barge, which was the only ship’s boat in company. We made
sail out of the little creeks in which the boats had been moored, the
sea running excessively high, and at about two the barge hauled up to
the N.W. We all, of course, followed. About 2.30 or 3 o’clock in the
afternoon we bore up again. Several of the boats were in distress, being
very badly found, having neither sails, rigging, nor ground tackling
that could be at all trusted to. Lieutenants Pridham and Lutwidge (who
remained prisoners of war until the peace of 1814), and Lieutenant
Barker (who was afterwards killed in a duel at Verdun), were to keep
ahead, as no other boat had compasses. At about five, in a very severe
squall with rain, we lost sight of the barge. Everybody in our boat was
of opinion that she had been upset; and at 5.30 P.M., it blowing
extremely hard, with a heavy shower of rain, we lost sight of all the
boats. At about six we observed St. Matthew’s Light[4] on the weather
bow. The wind now chopped round to the N.W., in a very heavy squall,
which carried away our mainmast in the step[5] and fore-tye, and very
nearly swamped us, having almost filled the boat with water. We chipped
the heel of the mainmast, restepped it, and rove the main-tye and
halliards forward, which enabled us to set the foresail, and keep
scudding before the wind to Rock Fort, with the expectation of falling
in with some of the other boats; but in this we were disappointed. At
eleven we determined to anchor at the bottom of Bertheaume Bay, though
with very little or no hope of riding long, our only ground tackling
being a small grapnel and a very few fathoms of one inch and a half

We providentially succeeded in bringing up, though we were,
unfortunately, too near the shore and most miserably situated: the
weather tide, running strongly against a violent gale from the N.W.,
occasioned such a sea as to bury us frequently in its abyss.

At 2 A.M., the sea breaking in a most terrific manner over us, and
finding that we were driving and almost touching abaft, expecting every
second to be dashed on the rocks astern of us, we hauled in briskly on
the grapnel rope, hoisted the foresail and wore round, paying out the
grapnel rope just hauled in, until we brought it right over the quarter,
which enabled us to get our grapnel on board with ease; then we stood
over to the Camaret Bay side, in the hope of falling in with some little
haven to shelter us, or with one of the other boats; but we were
disappointed in either expectation.

At about 4.30 A.M., finding we advanced towards Brest Harbour
considerably, we resolved to try the grapnel once more; although we were
not in the smallest degree sheltered from the inclemency of the weather,
and were placed immediately under a fort, which we distinguished by its
lights, that enabled us to see the sentinels on their posts walking to
and fro. We made, if possible, worse weather here than at our former
anchorage, with the exception that the grapnel held. At 7.30 A.M. the
wind and weather became more inclement than on the preceding night. Not
a boat of ours was in sight, every minute we expected to be hailed by
the fort, and not a soul amongst us could speak a word of French. We
were almost perishing and starved from the fatigue and sufferings of the
night, the few provisions we had being totally destroyed by the salt
water. Seeing no alternative but the pain and mortification of
delivering myself and my boat’s crew prisoners of war, I came at length
to that resolution. Accordingly I ordered all the small arms in my boat
to be hove overboard, and at eight cut the grapnel rope, and ran into
Brest Harbour under the foresail.

Imagining that the boat’s crew and myself might be better received and
treated on board the commander-in-chief’s ship than in a private vessel,
I went alongside the _Alexandre_, which ship bore his flag, and I
surrendered myself and my crew as prisoners of war.


     A kind reception by the enemy--Our shipmates all
     prisoners--Consolations under misfortunes--Prisoners sent to the
     hospital at Brest--Robbery by a French seaman--Running the
     gauntlet--Dilemma of wearing or giving up a sword--Kindness of the
     French nuns--Orders to march into the Interior--Wounded pride and
     hard fare--Bad faith of the Minister of Marine--The march begins
     for Verdun--Arrival at Landernau--Aristocratic differences in rates
     of pay or allowances amongst republicans--Landiviziau--An
     illustration of equality--Morlaix to Rennes--Prisoners and
     vermin--Vitré--English dogs at a French inn--Laval--A spectacle for
     the mob--Alençon--Difficulties increased--Part of the crew
     separated from their officers--Our arrival at Rouen--An honest
     gaoler and his amiable wife--A moderate bill for gaol fare--_Bons
     garçons_ in a prison--Our arrival at Amiens--English sympathy for
     suffering countrymen.

I was not disappointed in my expectations, for I was received with the
utmost civility. Every attention was paid to me, and I was provided with
a suit of dry clothes. They got me instantly (of which I never before
stood more in need) a warm draught, and gave each of my men a glass of
liquor, and ordered breakfast for them, with everything else that was
necessary to recruit exhausted nature, and to console them under their
sufferings and misfortunes. The poor fellows were in a most deplorable
state, shivering and shaking like aspen leaves; some of them were so
worn out with fatigue, hunger, and the extreme severity of the weather
that they could scarcely articulate when spoken to. The French officers
informed me also, that the whole of the boats, except mine and one
other, from the extreme violence of the weather, had been obliged to
make for Brest, and had arrived in the night; whilst they added that
they had been under the greatest apprehensions for our safety, as it was
not supposed possible, from the size of the boats and the manner they
were found, that they could exist through the severity of the night.
Lieut. Barker, Mr. Nepean, a midshipman, and now a commander, and Mr.
Carey, the boatswain (who afterwards died at Verdun), came on board,
from the other French ships-of-war in which they were prisoners, to
congratulate me on my extraordinary escape and safe arrival. We were,
however, under the strongest and most painful apprehensions that Mr.
Robert James Gordon, the midshipman who commanded the boat which had not
yet arrived, had perished with his companions.

The next day, the 11th, at 2 P.M., we were all sent on shore to the
hospital at Brest, which was the place assigned to us, as each
individual was more or less unwell from the hardships he had undergone.

To mark the character of the French seamen and of their naval service, I
must here relate that a small leathern trunk or valise, in which I had
saved a change of linen, etc., had been taken out of one of our marines’
hands, by a French sailor who spoke a little English, under the pretence
of saving him the trouble of carrying it down the ship’s side; whilst
the scoundrel, instead of putting it into the boat, handed it in through
one of the lower-deck ports. Our marine, who remained on the ship’s
gangway, had construed the transaction into an act of kindness, and
concluded that the trunk had been safely deposited in the boat which
was to carry us on shore; nor was the theft discovered until upon our
landing, when the humble, though to me invaluable, property could not be
found. I immediately communicated the fact to the officers who conducted
us, and they instantly sent on board an order to search for the valise.
In fact, they appeared excessively hurt that such an act of villainy
should have been committed by one of their crew. They assured me that
the perpetrator should be severely punished, and that my little
portmanteau should be safely returned. I despaired of this very much,
though I entertained little doubts of the first part of the promise
being faithfully kept. In the meantime, these officers conducted us to
the hospital, and insisted upon my wearing my sword all the way. The
captain had refused to receive it on board, observing that I had been
unfortunately wrecked, and not taken in fight, and, consequently, that I
had no right to lose my sword; and he further remarked, that, in his
opinion, we ought to be returned to our native country, and should not
be considered as prisoners; but he added that the gaoler on shore would
deprive me of my side-arms, which was afterwards the case.

On our arrival at the hospital, or rather prison (as we were closely
watched and guarded), the gaoler took away my sword, and appeared very
much enraged at my not allowing him to take my belt; this, I observed to
him, could do no mischief. I now had the inexpressible happiness of
shaking hands with all the officers, excepting Mr. Thomas (carpenter),
who was unfortunately drowned in attempting to land in Bertheaume Bay,
and Mr. Gordon (midshipman), who, I was very much pleased to hear, was
safe at Conquêt, where he had effected a landing. We expected him and
his boat’s crew round to Brest the following day.

On the 14th we had the pleasure of seeing him and his crew safely
arrived; they spoke very handsomely of the treatment they had received
at Conquêt and on the march. I now received part of the things that were
in the valise, and the thief, I was informed, had run the gauntlet.

We were very well used during our stay here, and were attended by
_religieuses_, or old nuns, which is a general custom in all the French
hospitals. They were the most attentive nurses I ever beheld: constantly
on the alert; visiting their patients; administering relief wherever it
might be wanted; and always solacing the dejected.

On the 18th we received information that we should commence our march
towards our depot on the following morning; and accordingly, on the
19th, we were ready at a moment’s notice. At about eight o’clock we were
all drawn up in the hospital yard. Mr. Mahoney and myself (being the
senior midshipmen) took our stations, as we were accustomed, next to the
lieutenants; but, to our great surprise, on the names being called over,
we were moved, together with Mr. Carey, the boatswain, and Mr. Simpson,
the gunner,[6] and placed next to the seamen. At the same time, each of
us was offered a loaf of brown bread for the day’s subsistence, which we
declined. We demanded of the French officers an explanation of this
extraordinary conduct, and they informed us that we were of a class
(master’s mates) different from any in their navy, and that they had,
therefore, ranked us as _adjutants_, or _sous-officers_, and they
insisted that they could not make any alteration. Lieut. Pridham now
interfered in our behalf. It appeared he had been made acquainted, on
the preceding night, that we should be thus ranked; but not being versed
in the regulations and titles of the French military service, he had
supposed that an adjutant was equal to a rank between a midshipman and a
lieutenant in our navy; and this, of course, he thought our proper
place. After remonstrating for a long time against the impropriety of
our being degraded to the ranks and put among the people, the officer
agreed to go to the Minister of Marine[7] to have the business, as he
termed it, arranged. He shortly returned; the Minister of Marine was
out, but we received an assurance from his head clerk or secretary that
the mistake should be rectified the moment he returned, and that a
courier would be despatched after us to the next stage with another
_feuille de route_. Thus far reconciled, we commenced our forced
march--and, as we were informed, for Verdun, in Lorraine,--although our
crew appeared quite indignant at this insult or disrespect offered to
their officers, and refused to move until we persuaded them to be

At about seven in the evening we arrived at our first stage, the small
and miserable village of Landernau, about twenty miles N.E. of Brest. I
anxiously expected every moment the arrival of the courier, so little
was I then acquainted with the nature of French promises and with the
French character. Here, as a great favour, we were permitted to mix with
the officers. Our allowance was eleven sous, or 5½d. per diem; whilst
the youngest midshipman or volunteer had fifty. The allowance to the
men, I believe, was only five sous.

At daylight, on the 20th, we commenced our march, rather more dejected
than the day before. In the evening we arrived at Landiviziau, a
distance of five or six leagues from Landernau, than which it was much
smaller. Here we halted for the night, and the people were placed in
stables, barns, etc. At daybreak, on the 21st, we commenced our march
towards Morlaix. At about two in the afternoon, at four or five miles’
distance from the town, we were met by a captain of _gendarmerie_ and
two _gendarmes_, who, we understood afterwards, came out to escort us
into that place. They had not long joined us when I happened to discover
one of our ship’s boys lifting his hand to strike a young midshipman. I
immediately ran up and chastised the youngster with a switch I
fortunately had in my hand; but mark my amazement! when I beheld this
blustering captain of _gendarmerie_ foaming at the mouth, and riding up
towards me at full speed, with his sword drawn. He appeared to be in a
very great rage, swore vehemently, and wielded his sword repeatedly over
my head. As I did not understand a syllable of what he spoke, but was
certain it must be abusive language, from the passion he put himself
into, I, parrot-like, repeated his own expressions as well as I could;
which irritated him to such a degree, that had not the officer of
infantry who was escorting us, and our own officers, interfered, I do
not know to what length he might have carried the outrage. The officer
of infantry expostulated with him on the impropriety of drawing his
sword upon a naked prisoner, who could not even understand a word that
he said. He declared, and persisted in it, that I spoke as good French
as he did; that we were all prisoners alike; that we were now in a
country where every man enjoyed liberty; and he would take care that
whilst we were with him we should not tyrannise over one another; or, in
other terms, that the officers should be on an equality with the men. I
observed that some of the crew understood him, and that they explained
his meaning to others, which seemed to please them extremely.

We had not, however, marched more than a mile when a circumstance took
place which gave us all a fine specimen of the liberty boasted of in
this land of republicanism and equality. A poor man, who appeared to be
at least seventy years of age, happened to be conducting a cart along
the road, and as he was approaching us this lover of liberty called to
him to turn his horses aside until we had passed; but the poor
unfortunate old man not hearing, and continuing his way, this brute rode
up to him, and beat and mauled him so unmercifully that the seamen
literally hissed him, and asked repeatedly, “If that were the liberty he
had so much vaunted about a few minutes before?”

At about five in the afternoon we arrived at Morlaix. Our people were
lodged and treated for the night much as usual; but the officers,
including myself and Mr. Mahoney, were allowed to go to a tavern. On
inquiry I found that this redoubtable captain of the _gendarmerie_ had
been a weaver before the Revolution, and by his perfidy had got advanced
to the rank he held. I was informed that he visited our people in the
night, and used his utmost exertions to make them turn traitors and
enter into the French service. Most glad am I to say that he found all
his efforts fruitless; and to the honour of our country be it related,
that every proposal he made, every temptation he offered, was treated
with disdain.

On the 22nd, about eight, we again commenced our route, and, after a
long march, arrived at a small village, Belle-Isle-en-Terre, where we
remained for the night, disagreeably situated, the village being
excessively poor and small, the people extorting double prices for
everything; however, this I have since found to be almost general
throughout France.

On the 23rd, at the usual hour, about eight, we recommenced our route
towards Guingamp, where we arrived tolerably early. It is a spacious
town, and appeared well peopled. We rested here during twenty-four
hours, and were pretty well treated. The country, though late in the
season, appeared beautiful. It is very fertile, and yet the peasantry
seemed excessively poor and distressed.

On the 25th, at daylight, we recommenced our march towards St. Brieux,
the last town on the sea-coast that we had to touch at, and we arrived
at about four o’clock. We were very closely guarded, which certainly was
necessary, as the town was only a mile and a half from the sea, and it
was the intention of a great number to slip their fetters; however, this
proved impossible. We had another guard ordered, which we all regretted,
as the officer who had conducted us from Brest to this place was a
perfect gentleman, and preserved the utmost moderation towards the
prisoners--who were not, by the bye, at all times very well behaved. I
here planned an escape, but could not accomplish it.

At daylight, on the 26th, we recommenced our route with our new guard.
About ten, in passing close to the sea, we were halted; the guard
loaded their pieces, examined their locks, and did everything to
intimidate us and overawe any desire to resist them. They appeared to be
alarmed lest we should attempt to escape, though they were nearly as
many as their prisoners in number. It would have been a desperate
business, and no vessels were near in which 300 men could be embarked;
but the bare possibility of our escape had nearly induced us to run the

About five we arrived at Lamballe, and on the 27th, at eight, we were
put upon our march for Rennes. We arrived at our place of destination on
the 29th. The officers were allowed to go to a tavern, but we who were
still ranked as _adjutants_ were conducted to the common gaol; and,
notwithstanding a number of representations and remonstrances conveyed
to the general commandant of the town, we were kept in confinement until
the 2nd of March, having had at Rennes what was styled a day’s _séjour_.
Much rather would I have continued _en route_, as in this gaol we were
associated with malefactors and criminals of every denomination, and, in
despite of every effort, we found ourselves covered with vermin. We had
at length another guard placed over us, joined our officers, and were
very much pleased at being once more in the pure air.

We were now put upon our forced route to Vitré, where we arrived at
about eight o’clock on the evening of 2nd March, having on this day
walked the distance of nearly ten leagues, or about twenty-five English
miles. At this town we met with but sorry treatment under our
mortification and distresses. We had great difficulty to gain admittance
into any inn, and still greater to procure refreshments of any sort.
Upon remonstrating with the landlord about our miserable supper, and at
the exorbitant price he charged for it, he retorted by calling us
“English dogs,” and told us that we ought to be glad to get anything,
and that the officers and public authorities were to blame for not
placing us in a stable, or in some other place better appropriated to
such brutes than an inn. If he had his will, he added, he would very
soon treat us as such dogs deserved. In this strain he continued--a
strain much less to our annoyance than his bad supper and extravagant
charges. This specimen of the national feeling of France, at this period
of excitement, shows that the French thought well of English bulldogs,
at least with respect to their digesting a long bill of fare. The river
Vilaine runs through Vitré, and the town seems supplied abundantly with

At daylight, on the 3rd of March, we quitted our _polite_ and
_hospitable_ host, and were marched towards Laval, a tolerably large
town on the Mayenne, renowned for its linen manufactories. We arrived
about five in the evening, and were kept some time in the market-place,
as a _spectacle_ for the inhabitants, before we were shown to our
respective places for the night. Some of the people who could speak
English came to inform us that our gracious sovereign, George the Third,
had been dead several days and that the result would be a general peace.
We spurned at their intelligence, and, much to their annoyance, assured
them that we did not give them the smallest credit.

From Laval we passed through Préz-en-Paille, a very small town, to
Alençon, where we arrived on the evening of the 5th, and were allowed to
rest for twenty-four hours. Never was rest more needful to the
desponding and weary. We had now marched many days through bad roads
during an inclement season, and under all the feelings that deprive the
traveller of the elasticity of spirits which supports bodily health, and
enables him to conquer all difficulties, to undergo all fatigues, and to
disregard all privations. Hitherto our whole ship’s company, with their
officers, had been kept together, but now even this consolation was to
be destroyed. At Alençon the high-road branches off in two directions,
the one leading to Paris through Versailles, the other striking off to
the N.E. to Seéz, Bernay, and Rouen. Unhappily the French rulers had
ordered that what they termed “the officers” should travel to their
journey’s end by the former route, whilst the crew should proceed to
their destined place of imprisonment by the road through Rouen. Here the
mistake as to my rank by the Minister of Marine most seriously affected
me. I was not to be included in the grade of officer. The lieutenants,
midshipmen, and other officers were therefore ordered to march on the
road to Paris, whilst I and Mr. Mahoney, with the boatswain and gunner,
as _adjutants_, or no officers, were ordered to proceed with half of the
ship’s company by the road through Rouen to Charlemont, or Givet, in the
department of the Ardennes.

I confess this separation grieved me extremely. Parting with my
messmates and friends in a foreign country, together with the insult and
injustice of being placed in an inferior rank to my brother officers,
could not fail of producing the depression so natural to any honourable
mind. The feeling was reciprocal on the part of my brother officers, and
we separated with regret, they on the Paris route, and I and my
companions on the more dreary road of the north.

Leaving Alençon, we passed through Seéz and Bernay, and at length
arrived at Rouen, at about two in the afternoon of the 12th. The
hardships we underwent were inconceivable.

This large and splendid city, with its magnificent cathedral and
manufactures, and with the beautiful scenery that surrounds it, might
excite expectation and joy in the approaching traveller, but no such
sensations can be roused in him who has been exhausted in a prison, worn
out by fatigue, disgusted by ill usage, and who has the prospect only of
a long confinement.

Upon our arrival at Rouen we were all put into the common gaol, and it
was of a character to give us not a very favourable idea of prison
management or discipline in France. But I cannot pass over a
circumstance that had happened before our arrival. Trivial as it is in
one respect, it still illustrates the French character with respect to
impositions in inns, even in the provincial towns or small villages.

About nine in the morning of the day on which we entered Rouen, we were
halted at a village on the banks of the Seine, in order to procure
refreshment, and yet all we could get were eggs and bread. But if an egg
is to be eaten with a spoon, the spoon must bear some proportion to the
egg: here, however, we were supplied with pewter spoons of no ordinary
dimensions. I observed to the French officer who had us in custody, that
smaller spoons would be more convenient; and, as he could not deny a
truth so palpable, he asked the old lady of the house if she had any.
She replied in the affirmative, and, with alacrity, opened a large
coffer, and taking thereout six silver tea-spoons, placed them on the
table. With these spoons we ate our eggs, and, having finished our poor
repast, we called for our bill; but what was the surprise of us poor and
exhausted prisoners when, in our wretchedness, we found that the old hag
had charged us--what in a French village is not a trifle--a penny each
for the use of her silver spoons! Even the French officer was quite
amazed, and asked her what she could mean by such a demand. The old
mercenary creature, who proved herself a compound of extortion and
nationality, replied with _sang froid_, “You see, sir, these Englishmen
are so particular that they cannot even eat like other people. My spoons
have not been out of my chest for a number of years, and I am determined
they shall pay for the trouble they have put me to.” The officer in
charge ought to have resisted the imposition, but he made no such
attempt; and, being defenceless, we paid our pennies, and respectfully
wished the _honest old lady_ a good morning.

I had another opportunity in Rouen of witnessing French shrewdness. I
observed a number of brigs and small craft laid up in the river, in a
dismantled and totally neglected state, and I could not help expressing,
to one of the Frenchmen confined with us, my astonishment that those
vessels should not have been equipped and sent to sea upon some
commercial venture. “And where, sir,” replied the Frenchman, “would be
the use of the attempt when the English would have the vessels before
they had completed one voyage?” This was unanswerable.

The prospect down the Seine was grand and beautiful. My view, however,
was now changed to one of a very different character. The transition
from the delightful scenery, with Nature’s freshness and exhilaration,
to the miseries of a common gaol, was rapid, and much increased, in
this instance, by the gloomy countenance of the gaoler and his dear
companion of a wife. They exhibited to us a perfect specimen of
matrimonial concord, for both cordially agreed in accosting us in very
antipathetic terms; and they were still more matrimonially harmonious in
their assurances that if we did not instantly pay for _two_ nights’
lodgings we should be placed in cells not of the best description and
with culprits of the very worst. We could not entertain the slightest
suspicion of the veracity of these worthy people, nor could we conceive
a doubt that we were under the dominion of absolute and irresponsible
power; and, notwithstanding we knew that what these kind people had said
was a law, we took the liberty of asking why they demanded payment for
_two nights_; and in matrimonial concord they replied, “That we were
going to enjoy _one day’s_ rest in the gaol, and that the officer who
had escorted us had assured them of the fact.” There was no resisting
such logic, nor could we maintain the position that the French
Government ought to provide for its prisoners of war; and we were
reduced to the necessity of paying for the comfort of a two-nights’
lodging in gaol which we had the happiness of occupying for only one
whole day.

This French officer, whose name, to the best of my recollection, was
Galway, lived with us in all the small towns through which we passed,
professing a great deal of friendship for us, whilst we were paying his
expenses, and repeatedly declaring that he would prevent our being
confined in the gaol of Rouen--would be himself responsible for us on
account of our gentlemanly conduct, and by that means enable us to
remain at an inn. But, alas! so shallow was this honourable gentleman’s
memory that he even forgot to leave us our last day’s allowance, or
prisoner’s money, of eleven sous, or fivepence halfpenny sterling, and
did not recollect to give to his successor in power over us the
certificate he had received from our officers, stating our rank, and
explaining the unfortunate mistake that had been made upon this subject
at Brest. His keeping the point of honour, and of honesty and duty,
would have been of material service to us; but I suppose that he did not
even recollect, after he had disposed of us, that there was a gaol in
the city, for we never saw him or heard of him after we had been placed
under bars and bolts.

It was now that we came into terms with our host and his rib, and paid
them a sum, equal to two shillings each, for the two nights’ lodging.
This pleased them so much that they were convinced that we were officers
and gentlemen; and they conducted us, with a great deal of respect and
politeness, into an apartment in which there were two prisoners and
three beds. Two of the beds were assigned to us. Our room-mates, we soon
discovered, were debtors. The landlady very charitably observed that she
was certain that we must be faint and in want of refreshment; and she
kindly added that she would send us some bread and a bottle of good wine
for the present, and would procure us, _pauvres enfans!_ a comfortable
dinner in about an hour’s time; and then she and her husband, after a
thousand curtsies and bows, withdrew, not forgetting to turn the key in
the door and to take it with them. We all agreed that this was a
considerate, charitable, good woman; but much more did we extol her when
we saw the bottle of wine and loaf of bread. The man who brought it was
a smart, active turnkey, who said, “Mistress is very busy in cooking
dinner for the English captains. I have had the pleasure of waiting very
frequently on British officers in this prison--they were very
extravagant, and liked to live very well,” etc. But this conversation
did not by any means suit his present guests; so we made signs to the
fellow to be off. He quitted us, taking the same precaution that his
master had done. Our finances were ebbing fast, and we began to fear the
dinner which was preparing for us would not help to relieve them. I have
already observed that we had fivepence halfpenny _per diem_ allowed us;
but we were very frequently cheated even of that miserable pittance, and
had we not each procured a little cash at Morlaix on our private bills,
we should certainly have perished of want. The table was now prepared
with a cloth, a rare decency in a common gaol, and in a short time
dinner appeared, with two bottles of wine. It consisted of a little
fresh fish and a small joint of boiled mutton. The dishes were cleared
in a short time, without the smallest hope of a second course. We were
anxious to ascertain what the generous good dame could or would demand
for this _sumptuous_ repast, and inquired of our active waiter, who went
to his mistress; and forthwith she very kindly replied, “not to make
ourselves uneasy, it would be time enough the next day.” We accordingly
waited until the next day; but were determined to have nothing more
until we knew what we were in debt.

Our fellow-prisoners were particularly polite and attentive to us, and
gave us a hint that we were greatly deceived in our opinion of the
landlady; which we easily perceived the next morning when we insisted
upon hearing how much we had to pay for what she called dinner and wine.
She very coolly informed us, fifteen shillings! We imagined it might
have been about seven. However, it was in vain to attempt to explain; we
paid the bill, and were resolved to be more circumspect.

At about eleven o’clock some French naval officers came to inspect our
people, and gave some of them pieces of money, with an intention to
induce them to enter the French service. This I saw, as it was publicly
done in the gaol-yard, and I happened to be looking out of the window at
the time. I desired them to be particular in what they were about. One
man, a Dane (Hendrick Wilson, a very fine fellow, upwards of six feet
high, who had been taken by us and had volunteered into our service),
replied, “We will take what money they choose to give us, sir, and that
shall be all they will gain by coming here.”

On the morning of the 14th, about eight o’clock, a guard of cuirassiers
rode into the yard. The gaoler was very expeditious in giving us notice
that they came to conduct us on our march; so the bills were paid, and
everything settled to this man’s and his good dame’s satisfaction. We
were then conducted down into the yard and joined by the people. The
gaoler observed to the French officer and cuirassiers that we were _des
bons garçons_. This officer appeared to be a very affable, good kind of
person, of the true old French school before the character of the
inhabitants had been demoralised by the Revolution. He informed us that
Mr. Galway, his predecessor, had left him no certificates; but he
assured us that with him it should make no difference. All matters being
arranged, we commenced our march towards Amiens, where we arrived, after
a fatiguing march through the towns of Neufchâtel and Aumâle, on the
16th of March.

Our humane officer was as good as his word. In the small villages
between Rouen and Amiens he always took us to an inn and dined with us
himself; but in Amiens he could not prevent our being put into the gaol.
He, however, came frequently to see us, and remained with us for some
time. Understanding that there was an Englishman, a Mr. S. Pratt, who
kept an eating-house in this city, we sent to inform him that there were
some of his countrymen, prisoners of war in the gaol, who wished to
speak to him; but the only answer we received was that he was _busy_.
However, he sent Mrs. Pratt, who even shed tears at seeing the
distressed condition of her poor, dear countrymen.

This benevolent Christian appeared overpowered by the kindness so
natural to her sex, and by a generosity, for the display of which she
possessed a peculiar eloquence, she assured us that “if she had it in
her power she would give all the seamen shoes and stockings, of which
they stood so much in need, and a good dinner--that she would; but, at
all events, she would go and instantly get a good dinner for us, poor,
dear creatures! for we must be famished.” To this she added a great many
similar tender expressions.

She took a _cordial leave_ of each of us, and said that she would not
come again until late in the evening, for fear of her visits being
noticed; but she assured us that an excellent dinner should be sent as
soon as possible to her poor, dear countrymen. In about an hour we
received a small roasted leg of mutton, without any vegetables, with two
knives and forks, a little salt in a paper, and two bottles of very
inferior wine. We expected to have the opportunity in the evening of
expressing to the lady in person our sense of the excellence of the
dinner; but she never came near her “_dear_, dear countrymen!” She took
care, however, to send her man with the bill, the charges of which
exceeded those of the gaoler’s wife at Rouen!


     Departure from Amiens--Arrival at Albert--Our French officers
     delicacy and liberality--A civic feast at Bapaume--Effects of
     champagne on French aldermen--A separation from our kind
     conductor--A new escort--A forced march to Cambray--Pitiable state
     and severe sufferings of the seamen--Entrance into
     Cambray--Imprisonment--Landrecies, Avesnes, Hirson--A billet upon
     the inhabitants--Rocroy--A brutal landlord--The robbery and abuse
     of prisoners--Givet--Charlemont--A description of the
     fortifications--An escape of prisoners--A fruitless
     pursuit--Generosity of the French commandant--Private lodgings--A
     Jacobin landlady--Exhausted funds--The 4th of June--Honours done to
     King George the Third’s birthday--Roast beef and plum
     pudding--French terrors of insurrection--The difference between
     taking off and only touching hats in saluting men in
     authority--Good news--A joyful departure in a cart for Verdun.

At length the destined hour arrived for our leaving this celebrated city
and for pursuing our forced and cheerless marches to the place of our
imprisonment. Accordingly, at about eight in the morning of the 17th of
March, St. Patrick’s day, a day of great festivity in my native isle, we
were put _en route_, and we arrived at the little town of Albert, in the
department of the Somme, at five in the afternoon. Here we were halted
for the night. The next morning our kind officer astonished us by a most
elegant breakfast, consisting of everything that the small town could
supply. We had made it a point never to allow him to pay any of his
personal or table expenses when he conducted us to an inn, and his
breakfast was given, I suppose, much to his honour, as a complimentary

From Albert we marched to Bapaume, a small fortified town in the
department of Pas de Calais. The inhabitants boast that it has never
been taken, even though the Duke of York was so close to it in 1793. The
road was excessively dirty and bad. Our men were so exceedingly weak
this day, the weather being very severe, and raining so incessantly,
that our good officer made some of his cuirassiers take three or four of
their prisoners behind on their horses. It was about four in the
afternoon when we arrived. The officer took us to a tavern. We, dripping
wet, were shown into a spacious apartment, where a large table was laid
out, and a number of genteel-looking citizens were sitting round a stove
that was fixed in the centre of the room. They did not appear to take
the smallest notice of us, nor to make place even for the officer, who
was wet to the skin. However, he took the liberty of requesting they
would allow him to approach, which they did with seeming reluctance. We
now endeavoured to dry ourselves, and get into the best plight we could;
having ordered, at the same time, something for dinner, or rather
supper, as it was about seven o’clock. We were given to understand that
it was the election day for a new mayor, in consequence of which the
aldermen and civic officers had ordered a dinner; which being served up,
left us in full possession of the stove, a circumstance that pleased us

Those gentlemen did not, in point of appetite, appear to deviate from
their namesakes in a certain great metropolis, although I could not
perceive that they had any turtle soup; champagne appeared to be the
only wine they relished. Our supper was placed on a small table near the
stove; and those gentlemen, as they became inspired with the generous
juice of the grape, condescended to become more familiar with the
English prisoners and the officer that had them in charge. They insisted
upon our touching glasses, and even on our drinking champagne with them;
and in the course of the evening these very people, who, on our arrival,
had not vouchsafed to treat us with common civility, or even humanity,
became so exceedingly hospitable, cordial, and pressing as to prove an
absolute annoyance. They even lavished in their cups a number of
encomiums upon the “noble nation” to which we belonged. “What a great
pity it is,” they cried, “that Englishmen and Frenchmen are not
unanimous! They would then carry everything before them, and conquer the
whole world.”

We were now doomed to suffer a sad mortification and misfortune. The
friendly officer who had conducted us from Rouen with so much humanity,
and, I may say, delicacy, now informed us that he was superseded, and
was no longer to be our guard or escort. He even added that he had
applied to be allowed to conduct us to our place of final imprisonment,
and, to his mortification, had received a refusal. He appeared very much
hurt at the disappointment, and left us for the night with much emotion,
assuring us that we should not leave the town without bidding each other

At daylight, on the 19th of March, a sergeant awakened us, with the
unwelcome news that he had brought a guard of dragoons to conduct us to
Cambray. We were obliged to get up immediately, and to make the best
arrangements we could for our unpleasant journey. Our old officer and
friend, as we considered him, made his appearance. He spoke of us with
much warmth of good-nature, and recommended us very strongly to the kind
consideration of the sergeant. He then took an affectionate farewell of
each individual, and literally shed tears at parting from us. Much did
we regret his loss. He was tender-hearted and compassionate, and
reflected honour on the nation that gave him birth, and even upon Nature
herself. Under this excellent man, with the indulgence he bestowed upon
us, and with the confidence he reposed in our honour, not one of us
would have taken an advantage of even the most favourable opportunity of
escape. Each would have felt it a disgrace to the character of our
country, and a proof of an individual badness of heart and insensibility
to honour.

At half-past eight o’clock we had to commence our march to Cambray. All
the elements seemed to combine with every circumstance to make us feel
our altered condition. It was a most severe morning, bitterly cold, and
the north-east wind blowing fiercely in our teeth. It hailed and rained
violently and without intermission. Our poor crew were half-starved,
miserably clad, and without shoes or stockings, and some of them even
without shirts. They were in rags and tatters. With starved stomachs and
broken spirits, they were forced upon this long march to the cheerless
bourn of a gaol. Under the new escort of dragoons we pursued our march
to Cambray, where we arrived about four in the afternoon, in a truly
pitiable state. We were a mass of dirt and filth, exhausted, and without
that alone which can make nature endure extreme difficulties--the
prospect of amelioration or relief. The consciousness of the merits of
the past we had, but of prospects of the future we were miserably

In this state we were marched through Cambray, the gaze of the people,
who rejoiced to see a procession of English captives. They felt an
extraordinary exultation at witnessing prisoners of a country that had
been so proud and so triumphant. After passing this ordeal we were
lodged in the citadel.

If in the first part of the captivity I and my companions had been
degraded and subjected to hardships as private seamen, here I had my
retribution, for we were all four now called captains; and, in virtue or
honour of our rank, we were, _pro tempore_, allowed accommodation in the
canteen. This was, in fact, an increase of misery, for our poor seamen
were put into the dungeons, or _souterrains_.

It was only by our strenuous exertions that we could procure for the
poor fellows some fresh straw, for which we paid an exorbitant price,
for their miserable repose. In this straw they enjoyed what warmth they
could, making it into ropes, and twisting it round their exhausted limbs
and bodies, after refreshing themselves with a sort of soup which we
provided for them, and paid for also dearly. This was what the French
called _soupe grasse_, and was made in the following manner:--They fill
a large pot, or _marmite_, with water. When it begins to boil, they
throw one or two handfuls of salt into it, according to the quantity of
water, chop up some cabbage or herbs, which they also put in, and, last
of all, a ball of hog’s lard, kitchen-stuff, dripping, or any other
grease they may have. They then allow it to boil until the materials
are well done. It is afterwards served up in soup-plates or dishes, into
which has been previously put bread, cut into very thin slices. The
charge is twopence, and sometimes more, for each plateful. I saw our
landlady at Seéz, a village near Rouen, after she had cooked us some
beef-steaks, put all the gravy into the pan, fill it up with water, and
after she had kept the pan boiling for some minutes, pour the whole
contents into a large pot of water which she had boiling on the fire,
previously prepared with salt and herbs: this she served out as soup to
our poor seamen, at a most exorbitant price.

We remained at Cambray until the 21st, when a severe frost, with snow,
set in; and we had to march, with the wind and snow and hail at
intervals right in our faces, to Landrecies, at a distance of nearly six
British leagues. Our people were there put into the gaol, and we were
allowed the _honour_ of stopping at the Palais National tavern. They
were very fair here in their demands. At daylight, on the 22nd, we
commenced our route to Avesnes, in the Pays-Bas, where we arrived at
about four. They put us all indiscriminately into the town gaol. About
five the town major came to speak with us, and obtained us permission to
go to a certain inn, which he pointed out, and where we were egregiously
imposed on. The men were left in the gaol. The 23rd we had another guard
of dragoons, under the command of a sergeant, to escort us to our depot.
At about three we arrived at a poor little village called Hirson, where,
having no gaol, they billeted both ourselves and the seamen upon the
inhabitants. I and my companions were quartered at a collar-maker’s
house. The poor people were extremely civil, and provided us with
tolerably good beds. We paid them for every necessary with which they
supplied us.

The next morning (the 24th) we had to take our leave of the collar-maker
and his family, and were put upon our march to the village of Maubert
Fontaine, which was by far more poor and miserable than even Hirson.
Here we were again billeted upon the inhabitants; and quarters in
private houses were so preferable to confinement in a gaol that the
difference easily reconciled us to the smallness of the town. The people
with whom we were placed were very great impostors, and extorted double
prices for everything with which they supplied us.

On the next morning (the 25th), however, we parted from these unfeeling
knaves, and were put upon our march to Rocroy, in the Ardennes. The
distance was short, and we arrived early; and our people were
immediately put into the common gaol. My companions and I exerted all
the interest and rhetoric that we could muster to be allowed, as
officers, to go to an inn; and the request at last was conceded. Here we
rested twenty-four hours, and had the misfortune to find our landlord a
most consummate scoundrel, who took advantage of every opportunity--or,
rather, made opportunities--both to defraud and insult us. The next
morning, at our departure, he presented us with an account of a
sum-total or gross amount of his demand, without condescending to
specify a single item in detail. We expostulated with him upon the
nature of his bill and upon its enormous amount, and wished to know how
he could possibly make it so great; for, in fact, we had been
particularly economical, as our funds were getting very low. The
impostor flatly refused any explanation whatever, but peremptorily
insisted upon immediate payment, bestowing upon us insulting and
provoking epithets, in numbers and of a character that brought
conviction to our minds that he had no ordinary talents for this species
of assault and battery. We were obliged to submit to all his furious and
disgusting abuse; and, what in our situation was still worse, we were
compelled to pay the bill, or rather the no bill, for it was an
extortion without a bill. To the great disgrace of the French military
character, I must repeat that in no instance did the officer in charge
of us protect us from these gross impositions, which were rendered more
shameful and cruel from our helpless condition.

The demand being satisfied, and the torrent of abuse digested with as
little bile as possible, we took our leave of Rocroy; and, turning our
backs upon our host, the dragoons put us upon our march on the road to
the little village of Fumez, on the Meuse, so famous for its slate
quarries, where we arrived early in the day, and were all of us billeted
upon the inhabitants, whom we found extremely civil and obliging.

We were now but one stage from Givet, with its citadel of Charlemont,
and at eight o’clock the next morning, the 28th of March, we commenced
our last day’s journey.

At three in the afternoon we entered Givet, or Charlemont, our place of
destination, and thus did we terminate our distressing march from Brest,
a distance, by the _détour_ we had gone, of nearly 700 miles, performed
in thirty-nine days, including resting-days, through inclement weather,
bad roads, and under every circumstance calculated to destroy life, or
to embitter it whilst it lasted.

Givet is a fortified town in the department of Ardennes and bishopric of
Liège, divided by the Meuse. That portion on the south side of the river
is called Little Givet. This town is commanded by a very strong fort
and citadel (Charlemont), built upon an immense rock: the fortifications
were constructed by Vauban. A communication between Great and Little
Givet is kept up by means of a pontoon bridge: the centre boats are
placed so as to be hauled out occasionally to admit vessels to pass up
and down, which frequently happens. The people appeared very much
disposed to be friendly with us; but we were kept so very close and
strict that it was impossible to form any acquaintance. Every necessary
of life is cheap in this town: their beer is tolerably good. Wine is
rather dear, as there are very few vineyards in the neighbourhood.

Our prisoners at the commencement were confined in this place; but when
they became numerous they were moved down to the horse-barracks, from a
dread, I suppose, of their revolting some day and taking possession of
citadel, town, and all. Had they once possession of one, the other would
be entirely at their mercy and disposal. During our stay at this depot,
four of the seamen escaped from their prison, two of whom belonged to
our late frigate. On their being missed the following morning, parties
of _gendarmes_ on horseback were despatched by the commandant to search
for them in all directions, with strict orders to mutilate, and, in
fact, _not to bring them back alive_; “that it might prove an example”
(using his own expression) “to the rest of the prisoners.” However,
fortunately for those poor fellows, they escaped their pursuers--at
least for that time. They were afterwards taken at Dunkirk as they were
about to embark in an open boat. The commandant was also frequently in
the habit of riding into the prison-yard, and taking his pistols out of
the holsters, examining the priming in order to terrify us. This he did
generally in the evening, and the prisoners could not refrain from
laughing at such foolish conduct.

Upon our arrival here, we found, as prisoners of war, the crews of the
_Minerve_ and the _Shannon_, frigates that had been commanded by
Captains Jahleel Brenton and Gower, who, with their officers, were at
Verdun. There were also in confinement a number of English seamen that
had been captured in merchant vessels. We were immediately visited by a
Mr. Bradshaw, one of Captain Brenton’s clerks, sent here by him, who was
permitted to reside in the town, in order that he might act as that
officer’s commissary.[8] Mr. Bradshaw introduced me and my companions to
Captain Petervin, of the _gendarmerie_, who was commandant of the
prisoners of war. A Jersey man, named Goree, was employed as
interpreter, and he explained to Captain Petervin our rank in the
English service; but the captain, though unwilling to put us under close
imprisonment, seemed at a loss what to do with us, as we had been sent
to him as private seamen. He hesitated, and for a long time remained
undecided; but at last he consented that we might go to La Tête de Cerf
tavern that night. To La Tête de Cerf we joyfully proceeded with Mr.
Bradshaw, after giving Monsieur le Commandant a thousand thanks for his
condescension. We found that we had been sent to a very decent tavern,
the first in the town, which convinced us that the captain of the
_gendarmerie_ entertained a favourable opinion of the English
_adjutants_. We justified his acuteness by ordering a good dinner. Mr.
Bradshaw dined with us, and exhilarated our drooping spirits by
assurances that the commandant would be induced to permit us to lodge in
the town. We ordered an additional bottle of wine on the strength of
this good news, and passed the evening as cheerfully as possible under
the recollection of past sufferings, and with the dismal prospect of a
long imprisonment, apart from the glorious services which our profession
was then rendering to our country.

The next day the commandant received us with the politeness for which
his countrymen had at one time been so proverbial. We explained through
our interpreter the excessive injustice and cruelty of being sent to the
seamen’s depot, and treated differently from our brother officers. He
sympathised with us in all we said, assuring us that he would send off a
despatch to General Wirion at Verdun (who was commander-in-chief over
the British prisoners) and state the case to him. At the same time, he
advised us to write to our commanding officer, and promised to have our
letter forwarded. He desired us to remain quietly at our tavern, and
assured us that he would do everything in his power to alleviate our
distresses. We gave him our best thanks, took our leave, and returned to
the Tête de Cerf.

Upon an overhauling of our finances, we had the mortification to find
that we could not remain many days at a tavern, not having a farthing
allowed us for our subsistence; the fivepence halfpenny _per diem_
ending at the moment we arrived at the depot. Mr. Bradshaw could not
render us any pecuniary assistance without Captain Brenton’s permission;
consequently our situation was becoming every moment worse and worse.
As lodgings, we were informed, were excessively cheap in the town, we
concluded that we had better apply to the commandant for leave to hire a
couple of rooms, with cooking utensils, etc., than continue any longer
as we were. However, we dreaded that he might order us into the barracks
with the seamen if we began so early to demand favours. We therefore
agreed to be extremely economical and to wait a few days longer. Those
days being expired, we made the intended application, and with success.
He approved of our plan, and gave us a written permission to walk about
the town. This he did entirely upon his own responsibility, and assured
us that he relied upon our honour not to go without the limits of the
town; adding that if we abused this indulgence we would be severely
punished. We declared our intentions were not to cause him the smallest
trouble or uneasiness, and we were particular in the observance of our

The same day we hired two rooms at Madame de Garde’s, the widow of a
_ci-devant_ general. She provided us with two beds for us four, cooking
utensils, and everything necessary for housekeeping, and at a very
moderate price. We acquainted Mons. le Commandant of our success, who
congratulated us, but, at the same time, appeared sorry that we lodged
with this old lady, observing that she was _une Jacobine_, and of the
_old school_. All persons at this time who were known to be attached to
the English were reprobated as Jacobins; and I need not say that we
liked the old dame the better for this information, though we took care
to disguise our feelings and to conceal the fact. Our _ménage_ commenced
the following morning. We took the daily cooking and different duties by
rotation; but were soon able to get rid of these unpleasant services,
for we procured permission for an infirm old man named Allen, who had
been our captain’s steward, to live with us as our cook and servant. Our
dishes were certainly not very varied or exquisite: soup and _bouilli_,
with vegetables, constituted our daily fare; and even this, we
apprehended, would soon be beyond our rapidly decreasing finances.

All April and May had dismally passed and no answers to our letters had
been received from Verdun. Our rent was in arrear, and our purses at the
point of exhaustion. We solicited Mr. Bradshaw to grant us the sailor’s
allowance of a pound of meat each _per diem_; but even this he could not
do without the authority of Captain Brenton. This, however, was received
from Verdun by return of post. The pound of meat proved of very material
service to the poor _adjutants_, and they were most thankful to their
humane chief, Captain Brenton.

At length arrived the glorious 4th of June, the birthday of our
sovereign, George the Third; and for this one day at least were our
sufferings forgotten and our sorrows cast to the wind. We were resolved,
if possible, to make some demonstration in honour of the day; and at
last, low as were our pecuniary circumstances, we did contrive to give a
birthday dinner to the commandant and to the paymaster of the depot.
From this latter officer, whose name was Payne, we had received many

The day altogether passed off very agreeably until about sunset, when
the time arrived for locking the seamen up in the different wards of the
gaol. They now gave three tremendous cheers, which flowed from the
heart, in commemoration of the day that gave birth to their gracious
sovereign; and, as the last cheer stunned and terrified the astounded
Frenchmen, they hauled in the colours of different nations that they had
kept all day streaming out of each window, taking care to have the
French tri-coloured flag under all, which was never noticed by either
commandant or guards. The enthusiastic cheers of nearly a thousand men
made a most powerful noise: it was music to our ears as we sat at table,
our lodgings being contiguous. The commandant, who was greatly alarmed,
imagined that the seamen had revolted and had actually got out of
prison: so great was this officer’s hurry that he made but one step from
the top of the stairs to the bottom. We had some little trouble in
getting him on his legs again, and were greatly rejoiced in finding that
he had received no injury from this step, or rather fall--assuring him
there was no foundation whatever for his fears. However, he would be
convinced in person: he therefore went to the prison, and was rejoiced
to find everything perfectly tranquil.

Being returned, he observed that the English were _des braves gens_, and
he would drink another glass of wine in commemoration of King George’s
birthday. The national dish, roast beef with plum pudding, which we had
made ourselves, was not forgotten upon this occasion. _Monsieur_ liked
the well-done or outside part of the former extremely; but the latter
neither of our guests would touch for a long time. At last, by dint of
persuasion, they condescended to taste it; and so sudden was the
transition made upon them by that taste that we had some pains to secure
ourselves a part, though it was a pretty sizable pudding. They exclaimed
as they gulped it down, “_Sacré bleu, comme il est bon!_”--“_Ma foi,
oui!_” repeated each alternately. We felt highly pleased at the sight,
and laughed heartily.

At a late hour, or rather, in regard to the morning, an early one,
_Messieurs_ took their leave, evidently in great spirits, and we retired
to rest.

Since our arrival at this depot, several of the stoutest and apparently
most healthy of our men had died of a fever supposed to have been caught
in some of the gaols on the road. Our poor servant, Allen, was seized
with it, and expired in a few days. With respect to comforts, our
prisoners were badly off; but the French medical officers at Givet were
certainly humane and attentive.

In the latter part of June, to our surprise and chagrin, the commandant
appeared much altered in his manner towards us. We were unable to
imagine what could be the cause of so sudden and total a change. Mr.
Bradshaw, however, informed us that he had observed to him, “that the
English officers” (as he was kind enough to style us) “were excessively

“I never meet them,” said he, “but I take my hat off, whilst they only
lift theirs to me.”

Certain it is, that, with all mankind, a slight or insult, real or
imaginary, intended or casual, produces more rancour than an injury. By
the accidental hurry or carelessness of using a wafer instead of
sealing-wax to a letter, the Prime Minister of England, at a crisis of
the country, for a time lost the support of one of the wealthiest and
most influential dukes of the political world.

But our commandant’s anger was not soon appeased. He one night sent a
guard of _gendarmes_ to take us from our lodgings to the guard-house,
for being in the streets after nine o’clock, when it was scarcely dark
at that time of the year, and although we had no regular time prescribed
by him to be indoors. In the guard-house we remained, on a cold
pavement, all night, at a loss to know of what we had been guilty. Our
guards assured us that it was merely the caprice of the commandant. At
noon Mr. Bradshaw visited us, but without affording any hopes of
release. The commandant had informed him that we were confined for not
answering a sentinel on his post who had hailed or challenged us. This
we positively denied, as we had not passed a single sentinel that night.
Monsieur Brasseur, the second in command, then came to visit us, and
expressed great sorrow at seeing us thus confined without any cause. He
waited on the commandant, became responsible for our conduct, and had us
removed to our lodgings, where we were commanded to confine ourselves
until “further orders.”

Our excellent landlady received us with the greatest joy imaginable,
bathed us with her tears, and had refreshments ready for us, though she
had sent us a very good breakfast to the guard-house, and was herself
very poor. In three days we were once more liberated; but henceforth we
were always confined whenever a religious procession or public ceremony
took place, and which at this particular time was very frequent. Our
chief amusement was a game at billiards, and a walk round the ramparts,
or rather ruins. We frequently met with military officers at the
billiard-table, who always behaved with the strictest politeness, and
made us an offer of the table the moment we entered the room, which, of
course, we declined until they had finished.

From the commandant’s conduct of late, we were constantly under
apprehensions of being closely confined with the sailors: he appeared
more inveterate against me than any of the rest. However, about the 10th
or 12th of July we received a letter from our commanding officer at
Verdun, stating that General Wirion had at last sent an order for Mr.
Mahoney and myself to be conducted to the Verdun depot. The commandant
received the order by the same post. Mr. Bradshaw had also a letter from
Captain Brenton, who had kindly and considerately directed him to supply
us with cash to enable us to proceed. All this intelligence arriving at
the same time, nearly overwhelmed us with joy; but the two other poor
fellows that were to remain--the boatswain and gunner--were not only
disconsolate at the inequality of their fate, but full of apprehensions
that as soon as we had left them the offended commandant would become
both more mean and cruel in his severity.

At last, on the 16th of July, we were to leave Givet for Verdun. Mr.
Mahoney had a bad foot, and a cart was therefore provided, in which I
had the privilege of riding. Everything was at length settled for our
departure, and we had previously been permitted to see our ship’s
company--a pleasure of which we had been deprived for some weeks. This
scene was sadly interesting, and we left the brave fellows with
reciprocal good wishes. We took an affectionate farewell of our two
shipmates and of our good landlady, and began our route to Verdun, under
the escort of two _gendarmes_.


     Our arrival at Verdun--A joyful reception--General Wirion--His
     indulgence towards the prisoners--The meetings of old shipmates and
     friends--Mental employment the best antidote against _ennui_ and
     dissipation--Restiveness at confinement--Anxiety to be again in the
     active service of Old England--Meditations upon an
     escape--Contrivances to avoid a breach of parole or any breach of
     honour--Three comrades, or _compagnons de voyage_--Scaling
     ramparts--A descent of seventy-two feet--The open country--The
     march commences--Flying by night, and hiding in woods by day--Heavy
     rains, dismal roads, and swampy beds, with bad fare and good
     hearts--Leaping a moat--A dislocated knee--The march resumed, and
     pursued lamely--The town of Neuville--Extreme sufferings from
     thirst--Water at length procured, anguish allayed, and the escape
     proceeded upon with renewed spirits.

On the 16th of July 1804 we arrived early at Fumez. Here an old woman
doing the duty of crier attracted my notice. At a corner of one of the
streets she began her preamble. She had a small bar of iron in one hand
and a large key in the other, as a substitute for a bell. We were
allowed to do as we pleased on our arrival, and to go to any inn we
liked. Our guard informed us that the commandant of Givet had inserted
in our _feuille de route_ that we should be considered as officers on
parole and be treated accordingly.

From Fumez we were marched to Mezières, and put up at a tavern, being
now officers of rank, which our landlady appeared to have been informed
of. This old lady was, if possible, more extortionate than any we had
yet met with. We found that, unless we previously made an agreement,
particularly specifying what we wished, and regulating the price of
every article, we should be liable to the greatest imposition; and this,
indeed, is pretty generally the case throughout France. From Mezières we
passed through Sedan, Stenay, and a small village, Sivry; and on the
23rd arrived at Verdun, the long-wished-for place of our ultimate

We were received by Captain Brenton, our officers, and countrymen in the
most joyful and cordial manner. For two nights, until we could procure
lodgings, we were billeted at the inn Les Trois Maures, at which the
Emperor Napoleon put up on his return after his splendid campaign in
Germany and the Treaty of Tilsit. Two or three days after our arrival,
Mr. Pridham introduced us to General Wirion, who gave us permission to
walk in the suburbs, provided our commanding officer became responsible
for our conduct, _corps pour corps_; which Lieutenant Pridham had done.
In the course of a few days I procured lodgings, recently vacated by a
_détenu_, Sir James de Bathe, with Mr. Ashworth, a midshipman, who had
been one of my messmates in our late ship, the _Hussar_. He afterwards
died at Minorca, in consequence of wounds he had received off Tarragona,
when a lieutenant of H.M.S. _Centaur_, while in the act of snatching
from destruction the unfortunate Spaniards who were being sabred by the
French cavalry when rushing into the sea to our boats for

As soon as I found myself a little settled, in conjunction with my
much-esteemed friend Ashworth I employed a French master, and pursued my
studies with the utmost assiduity. I never left the town, except
occasionally on race-days or days of other public amusements. It should
be remarked that races, and all species of amusements that can deprive
an Englishman of his property, or divert his attention for a moment,
were allowed by the general who commanded the prisoners. I have been
informed that there were fixed prices for all these indulgences. The
hazard-table and _rouge et noir_ have been the destruction of many of
our countrymen. Every kind of debauchery and libertinism, I am sorry to
add, was permitted and practised in this town. Latterly, from the
principal people of fashion and men of property being dispersed,
horse-racing ceased, and gambling also, in a great degree.

We likewise engaged a fencing-master, and, as soon as we were tolerably
advanced in the French language, we procured an Italian master, and
applied ourselves to study under him with the greatest diligence. These
literary pursuits were of incalculable advantage to us; for, whilst they
strengthened the mind, and spread over it the charms inseparable from
the acquisition of useful knowledge, they fortified us against the
allurements of dissipation, lightened the weight of our captivity, and
saved us from that moral disease _ennui_, with all its train of passions
and disordered appetites which people are prone to inflict upon
themselves by an indulgence in habits of idleness. We were stimulated in
our zeal for our studies by reflecting that we were acquiring that which
would make us more useful to our country in our profession. However,
what we witnessed and what we experienced convinced us of the
inestimable benefits of mental pursuits in mitigating the sufferings of
captivity, as well as of the extent to which those sufferings are
aggravated by a want of intellectual employment.

In a few months after my arrival, a Mr. M’Grath, a relation of mine, was
escorted to this depot, with Mr. Wills, master’s mate, and a boat’s crew
of the frigate _Acasta_. Mr. M’Grath was surgeon’s assistant. They had
been made prisoners on the island of Beniget, near Brest. Mr. Wills had
been ordered early in the morning to land on that island and load his
boat with sand for scouring the decks; and Mr. M’Grath had received
permission to accompany him, merely for the purpose of taking a walk and
amusing himself while the men were loading the boat; but they had no
sooner landed than they were surrounded by a number of French troops
that were lying in ambush for them, and had been disembarked the night
before for the express purpose of surprising some of the English boats
which were daily in the habit of coming on shore. Our poor fellows were
immediately secured, embarked, and conducted to the Continent. From the
cruel treatment which they experienced on their march, they were so
exhausted on their arrival at Verdun that both the officers were seized
with a violent fever. Mr. Thos. George Wills, an excellent officer, now
a post-captain, recovered in a short time; but his companion lost the
use of his limbs, and was confined to his bed, with little or no
intermission, until July 1808, when he burst a blood-vessel and expired
without a groan. He lived with me the greater part of that time.

But to return to the thread of my own narrative. We continued at Verdun
from July 1804, amusing ourselves by study, and in the winter by
skating, etc., until August 1807, when I began to consider my situation
minutely and to deliberate upon my unfortunate captivity. Those
deliberations had the effect of making me very uncomfortable and
dissatisfied; nor could I afterwards reconcile myself to study or to any
amusement whatever. I reasoned with myself that I was losing the prime
of my youth in captivity. I saw no prospect of peace or an exchange of
prisoners; no hope or possibility of being promoted in my present state,
nor of recommending myself, through any personal exertions, to the
notice of the Admiralty. I was deprived, while in France, of being able
to afford my country, my friends, or myself the least assistance. The
youthful visions of the glories of the naval service again came over me;
but sadly were my spirits broken when I reflected that my hopes of
joining others in the strife of honour and patriotism were destroyed,
unless I could rescue myself from bondage.

In this horrible state, almost of stupefaction, I remained for some
days; when my poor friend Ashworth observed to me, that he and Mr.
Tuthill, a particular friend, a midshipman also, had been canvassing the
cruelty and hardships they laboured under, and had, in consequence,
formed the intention, if I would join them, of transgressing, and
getting deprived of their permission to go out of town (what the French
deemed _parole_), and making their escape to their native country. This
was to me the most flattering intelligence--it was what I had been
revolving in my brain for some days. We accordingly met at an appointed
place to deliberate on the best method of putting in execution the
exploit we were about to commence, and agreed that it was necessary to
procure knapsacks, provisions, bladders to contain water, etc., prior
to our getting closely confined, as we should be under the necessity of
travelling by night, and of concealing ourselves in the woods during the

Having, therefore, provided all the requisite materials--viz., files,
gimlets, saws, and other articles which are needless to mention,--that,
in case of being taken, we might be able to break our fetters and escape
from the slavery and punishment we were well aware would await us; and
Mr. Ashworth and I having waited upon Lieutenant Pridham, to request he
would withdraw his responsibility for us, which he accordingly did,--we
commenced by missing one _appel_; but, to our great astonishment, this
breach of conduct was overlooked and forgiven.[10] We next remained out
of town very late. This was also forgiven, though we even got into the
guard-house. In short, it was several days before we succeeded in being
deprived of our passports, or “permissions”; and we suspected, or rather
felt confident, from the lenity shown to us, that our design of escape
was suspected. Our personal honour, as well as that of the navy,--and,
indeed, of the English nation in general,--had precluded the possibility
of our attempting to escape whilst we were upon what was deemed, by the
French commandant, _parole_; but now we were literally under close
confinement; and with the reflection that, perhaps, so favourable an
opportunity of getting away might never again be afforded to us, we were
not slow in forming our resolutions.

It was on the night of the 28th of August 1807 that we determined to
take French-leave of our “prison-house”; and we had provided an
excellent rope to enable us to scale the ramparts. Each had procured his
portion, or quantum, of between three and four fathoms; but that which
Tuthill had obtained was merely thumb-line. This, of course, was tailed
on, or put at the bottom of the rope, in order that if it gave way we
should have the less distance to fall.

It may be imagined that our hearts beat high with conflicting emotions.
That great sufferings were to be endured, and great dangers encountered,
but little interested spirits so young and ardent as ours; or they were
rather overwhelmed by that love of daring and honourable enterprise
which often stimulates youth as well as manhood to the greatest and best
exertions. On one side we had to reflect upon the mortification of
capture, with an increased severity, and, what to us seemed infinitely
worse, a prolonged duration of confinement; whilst, on the other, should
success crown our determined efforts, our hearts thrilled with the
thoughts of once more walking the deck of a British ship-of-war, in all
the elation of a confidence that we were serving our king and our
country in a righteous cause.

I returned to my lodgings; but it is necessary for me to observe that on
my way I happened to meet with a friend, a Lieutenant Essel of the navy,
who, with the greatest frankness, communicated to me that he had come to
a resolution to attempt his escape from France, and he expressed how
much he wished that I would accompany him. This singular coincidence
naturally excited in my mind a suspicion that he had arrived at a
knowledge of our secret, and I declined giving him a direct answer for
the present; but I reflected that as he did not mention either of my
companions, it was a proof that he did not know of our design, or that
he exercised a prudence which might render him worthy of confidence. I
quitted him, repaired to my comrades, and communicated to them all that
had passed. After a consultation, upon a point to us so momentous, we
agreed that he might join our perilous expedition, provided that he was
not in debt, and that he could otherwise escape from the town without
dishonour. Very high feelings and scrupulous notions of honour pervaded
our naval officers. Our new comrade satisfied us upon all these points.
He assured us that he had been deprived of his passport, or
“permission”; that he had settled all his affairs; and that he had a
surplus of £50 to join with our funds in meeting the difficulties we
were but too sure to encounter. Under these circumstances we all
cordially shook hands; and never did four young adventurers attempt an
exploit under a more friendly and gallant resolution to share a common

The time so long expected arrived; and at the hour before midnight we
met at the appointed spot. How much were we chagrined and vexed to find
that not only at this late hour were the sentinels unusually on the
alert, but that--what seemed more extraordinary--great numbers of people
were passing to and fro. We were obliged to defer our escape to the
night following.

I confess I felt the greatest regret at quitting my poor sick relative,
our only other comrade, M’Grath; nor could I make him acquainted with
the step I was about to take without experiencing an emotion impossible
to be described. His feelings at our separation were as acute as my

The sea-coast, of course, was the point fixed upon for our destination;
and we agreed that about Étaples was the most likely part to procure a

The anxiety and uneasiness which we felt the next day were beyond
description. Some of our countrymen who called to see us, _en passant_,
threw out such insinuations, and made such remarks upon our conduct of
late, that we were under the most serious apprehensions of being
shackled, and on the road to Bitche, before the much-desired hour,
eleven at night. “The ----,” says Shakespeare, “fears each bush an
officer.” We were well aware that there were several Englishmen employed
and paid regularly for conveying the most trivial occurrence that might
take place amongst the prisoners to the French general. I have
frequently known prisoners of war, through malice, to be taken out of
their beds in the night, fettered, and conducted, under an escort of
_gendarmes_, to the depots of punishment, without ever being informed of
the crime or fault of which they had been accused; and merely from some
of those miscreants giving false information, in order to be revenged
for any private animosity they might have had against the person so

The long-wished-for moment at length arrived: the intermediate time had
passed in great excitement. We met. Everything seemed quiet, and
favourable to our escape. We were in the spirit to take every advantage
of circumstances, or to create circumstances, if creating them were
possible. In a few seconds, by the aid of our rope, and by the
assistance of a friend, Alexander Donaldson, many years back my
shipmate, a master in the navy, and afterwards a prisoner of war,--he
was a native of Portsoy, in Banffshire, but is now no more,--we got
down these most formidable ramparts of between seventy and eighty feet
high. We descended, to our surprise, with little damage, except the loss
of some of the skin from my hands. This was caused by the whipcord part
of the line, which we were not able to grasp firmly, and it brought my
companions altogether on my back and shoulders, in the ditch, before I
could move or extricate myself. Happy were we to find ourselves, so far
at least, at liberty. Our course was N.W. Each man buckled on his
knapsack, arranged his implements and weapons of defence, and, full of
the spirit of determined adventure and of resolute suffering, we started
upon our course.

The next morning, the 30th August 1807, at about three o’clock the day
began to dawn, and as we had run during most of the time since we had
quitted our miserable imprisonment, we conjectured that we were at least
five British leagues from Verdun. We determined not to approach any
houses, nor to expose ourselves during the daytime, except in a case of
the greatest necessity.

We were, fortunately, close to the very wood which we had pricked off
upon our map for our first halt: it was in the vicinity of Varennes,
where Louis XVI., his queen, sister, and two children were arrested in
their flight from the Tuileries in 1791, and were conducted back to
Paris. We instantly entered this wood, and, after a long search, we
succeeded in finding a thick part, though, unfortunately, it was
contiguous to a footpath. However, we hid ourselves so well, that,
unless information had been spread of our flight, and people came
purposely in search of us, we had no apprehension of being discovered.
In this our lair we lay with tolerable comfort and security, until
about nine o’clock, when our confidence vanished, and we were greatly
annoyed; for we found the pathway to be much frequented, and the voices
of passengers, and of children who came to enjoy their Sunday morning in
nutting and sporting in the wood, greatly distressed the whole of us.
Fortunately none of the nut-trees or bushes were very close to us, and
at noon we had the happiness of seeing the intruders hurry home to their
dinners. We likewise took our refreshments, and thought it wise to
destroy our hats, and to supply their places with white beaver caps, à
_la Française_, with which we had provided ourselves.

At seven in the evening it was tolerably dusk, and, having shouldered
our knapsacks and made all other arrangements, we left the wood, and
recommenced our march, making a direct N.W. course through the country,
over hill and dale, mountain and plain; traversing ploughed fields,
wading through bogs and marshes, leaping ditches, and clearing all
enclosures with a buoyancy of spirit that gave us astonishing strength
and vigour: nothing could intercept or retard our progress. The
happiness we felt was inexpressible. The freshness of the open air, the
active use of our unconfined limbs, and the hope of ultimate triumph and
liberty, made us consider ourselves as regenerated creatures.

But before daylight (on 31st August) it began to rain heavily. We
discovered a wood convenient for our concealment, except that it was
contiguous to a farmhouse. After much of anxious deliberation, we
resolved, however, to secrete ourselves in it; for we reflected that it
might not be possible for us to reach another, before daylight might
betray us to the stirring peasantry, compared to which any less chance
of danger was preferable. I at this moment perfectly recollect the spot
in which we placed ourselves, and even at this distance of time I seem
to behold all that passed around us.

We provided ourselves, after a long search--the wood being excessively
thin--with a tolerably good sort of hiding-place; but we could
distinctly hear the people in the farmyard conversing, which, I need
scarcely say, caused us great alarm. Our situation all this day was very
deplorable. On entering our hiding-place we were wet to the skin, and it
continued raining without ceasing until late in the evening: the wet we
received from the branches and leaves was much worse than if we had been
in an open field without a tree. Our chief employment was squeezing the
water out of our clothes and stockings. Our store of provisions, which
principally consisted of light biscuits and sausages, was very much
damaged. At dusk, about the usual hour--seven,--after taking a little
refreshment, we bundled on our knapsacks and accoutrements, and
proceeded on the old course, N.W. We walked a good distance this night,
the weather being more favourable.

Just before daylight on the next morning (1st Sept.) we entered a most
excellent thick wood, admirably well calculated for night-walkers. We
took some refreshment, and endeavoured to sleep a little after the
fatigues of the night, and after congratulating one another at being
thus far successful. At about ten we were alarmed by the voices of
people apparently close to us. We found that they were passing on an
adjacent pathway, which we had not before perceived; but we were too
well placed to be under any dread of being discovered. The number of
squirrels, rats, mice, and vermin about us this day was very great.
Having made our customary preparations, at seven we got out of our
lurking-hole, and proceeded to the border of the wood, on the side
towards which we had to direct our course. On our arrival we discovered
some labourers still at work in a field close to the outside of the
wood, which obliged us to halt until they disappeared. We then proceeded
with some anxiety, as we saw a village exactly in our track, and which
we could not avoid without making a very great circuit. In about two
hours after we had quitted the wood we found our course suddenly impeded
by a ditch or moat, and, upon sounding it with our clubs (which, by the
bye, were of a tolerably good length), we found it very deep; in fact,
its depth by far exceeded anything we could have anticipated. We
surveyed this formidable obstruction or barrier, marching first in one
direction, and then in another, without being able to come to any
resolution, although we all knew and felt that, by some means or other,
cross it we must, or submit to be recaptured.

At length I discovered one part which was, or seemed to be, narrower
than the rest, and in this case of no alternative, which was becoming
more desperate every minute, I resolved to make one great effort and to
try to leap over. I accordingly gave myself space for a good run
opposite the narrowest spot, and, leaping with all my force, I landed on
the opposite bank some feet beyond the margin. The channel turned out
not to be so broad as it had appeared, and, knowing that it was
exceedingly deep, I had been the more anxious to secure a good landing,
lest I should fall back into the stream. The event, however, was like
escaping from Scylla to be lost in Charybdis--or rather the reverse;
for, in avoiding the water, I had to find my injury on the land. The
consequence of the great impetus I had given to my leap was, that, the
opposite bank being gravelly and hard, and my knapsack lifting and
coming down with a sudden jerk immediately my feet touched the ground, I
was thrown on my side, and my right knee was twisted in the joint to
such a degree that I absolutely thought it was snapped in two.

In this condition I remained extended on the ground; and, whilst in the
most excruciating pain, I kept cautioning my companions to be more
careful and to guide themselves by my experience. They at last effected
the leap, and joined me without injury or inconvenience. They examined
the joint, and found, to my inexpressible joy, that the knee was not
broken; but so unfortunate an accident, at such a critical moment,
deprived me of every hope of being able to prosecute the long and
difficult journey that we had to accomplish. These reflections
distressed me to such a degree that my ideas became distracted. I could
not, of course, expect my comrades to remain with me; and I had the
wretched prospect of being abandoned by them, and left either to suffer
and perish in the open field, or to be captured, and my recovery to be
succeeded by the gaol. Instant death I thought by far preferable; but
Divine Providence deigned to interpose its clemency, and taught me the
useful lesson--to prefer to despair a confidence in its wisdom and

My comrades paid every attention to my injury. They chafed the joint,
and rubbed it with the small portion of spirits with which each of us
was provided. I found great relief from this application, and in a short
time, with their assistance, I was able to get up and put my foot to the

I made an effort to step out, but was under the necessity of requesting
that one would assist me on each side, which they did. Thus we moved on
slowly, and passed the village about which we had been so anxious. My
knee, I was happy to feel, was gradually getting better; and we managed
to proceed in this state about three leagues, when we discovered a very
fine, commodious wood.

It was about two o’clock on the 2nd, when my comrades proposed that we
should rest in this wood during the ensuing day: they would not, on my
account, proceed farther. No determination could be more congenial to my
feelings than this. I was excessively dejected and fatigued. Having, at
length, found a proper part of the wood, each took his position and
enjoyed a little refreshment, and then endeavoured to take rest; but so
violently did my knee pain me that I was obliged to have two of my
friends lying with their whole weight on my leg, thigh, and right side.
They fell fast asleep in a very short time, yet I could not close an
eye. The distressing and melancholy reflection of being left behind, in
consequence of my illness, still recurred. The thought of being picked
up and conducted to some dreadful dungeon, or some other ignominious
habitation, was constantly present; and while agitated with such ideas,
what mortal could think of sleeping? Thus occupied in thought, wavering
between hope and despair, I remained nearly two hours, my friends in a
sound sleep the whole time. At last, finding their weight on my side
troublesome, I extricated myself from them without awaking them or
causing them the least disturbance.

I now imagined that I had an excellent opportunity of trying whether I
could rise and walk by myself, and I accordingly made an effort to
stand, which I accomplished with some difficulty; but on attempting to
walk, so great was the pain, and so excessive the weakness of the knee,
that I immediately fell backwards on the earth. The necessity of
proceeding was so urgent that during the ensuing day I availed myself of
the opportunity of my companions being asleep to repeat the experiment,
but with no better success. In order, however, to encourage my kind and
brave associates, I kept answering all their inquiries with assurances
that I felt much better.

At the usual hour of the evening, all arrangements being made for
pursuing our march, we stole to the edge of the wood, which I never
expected to be able to leave. I was supported by a friend on each side,
as I had been the night before, and most burdensome must I have been to
them. On arriving at the outskirts, we found it too early to leave the
wood. There was a very high tree at the point to which we came, and it
was proposed that Mr. Tuthill should climb up it to discover the nature
of the country that lay before us in our course. This he immediately did
in good style, being intrepid and active; and, to our great
satisfaction, reported it to be a beautiful plain, without wood, river,
or anything to impede our progress. From the excessive height of the
tree, we had no doubt that he could extend his view over several

We at length proceeded, and I insisted that my friends should leave me
in the rear, to hobble on and struggle for myself. I felt, I confess,
extremely dejected, but was determined not to expose my feelings. At
first the pain I endured was terrible; however, confident that there
was no fracture, though with excruciating agony, I at length firmly
brought my leg to the ground, and contrived to limp with the assistance
of my club. We had not advanced above a league when we perceived a
beautiful vineyard right before us. We halted to taste the grapes, which
were a heavenly relief to me, as I was almost exhausted. The grapes,
though sour, revived our spirits amazingly. After eating a great many,
we amply filled our pockets. In a short time I found my knee become more
easy, and the gloom that had so very much depressed me was rapidly
disappearing, until I at length proceeded in excellent spirits. Indeed,
I never was more surprised than at the sudden change in my frame
altogether, my knee improving every mile I walked.

At daylight, on the 3rd (of Sept.), we were much alarmed, not being able
to make out a wood in any direction. At last, to our unspeakable
delight, we perceived at a small distance a copse or kind of little
forest, not more than three or four acres in circumference. We repaired
to it without hesitation, and found it thick and well adapted for our
concealment. Having pitched upon a convenient spot, we deposited our
knapsacks, disburdened ourselves of our apples, etc., and, after being
refreshed with a little biscuit and sausage, together with a dessert of
fruit, which we could now afford, we betook ourselves to rest. I had not
closed an eye since I had received the hurt; but at this moment I no
sooner extended my weary limbs upon the ground than I was in a profound
sleep; nor did I awake until roused by my comrades, who were alarmed by
the voices of two men who came to work close to our hiding-place. We
could hear them so very distinctly that we were of opinion they could
not be distant more than fifty paces. Their conversation was chiefly
respecting the towns of Charleville and Mezières. They continued their
work until sunset.

From hearing them mention those towns so repeatedly, in addition to
other parts of the conversation, we were convinced of our being too far
to the northward of our proper course. Travelling by nights, frequently
extremely dark, though we had an excellent compass, it was impossible to
avoid sometimes erring a little, more especially whenever a river turned
us out of our proper direction. Those labourers being gone, which we did
not regret, as the reader may suppose, we commenced our preparations, as
we were accustomed, and, at the usual time of the evening, proceeded on
our march towards the coast. My knee, when we started, was painful and
stiff, but it gradually grew better by exercise.

At midnight we came suddenly upon a small town situated in a valley; nor
did we perceive our error until it was too late to retrace our steps to
avoid it. However, as it was an open town, we trusted that at so late an
hour of the night we might escape through it without danger. We
accordingly advanced as quickly as possible; nor did we meet a single
soul until we got into the opposite fauxbourg, when we had to encounter
a peasant on horseback. Mr. Ashworth asked him the name of the town we
had just passed, and he informed us it was Neuville. We thanked him,
continued our route, and that night travelled a considerable distance.
In our journey we had often experienced a dreadful scarcity or total
absence of water; and this night our thirst was very great, but we were
able to allay it by the fruit we gathered in the orchards.

At about three o’clock on the morning of the 4th of September we entered
a very convenient wood; and here we resolved to lie concealed for that
day. We refreshed ourselves with a very small quantity of our biscuit
and sausages, and had occasion to remark that our stock was getting very
low, notwithstanding we had been so abstinent that strength for our
journey could scarcely be supported. The dew was extremely heavy, and
the ground very wet; so, making our beds of heath, leafy branches, and
grass, we sank quietly to sleep. I found myself happy beyond expression,
in consequence of my knee daily getting better.

The next evening, at the usual hour, we quitted our covert, but under
distressing circumstances, for our fruit was exhausted, we had not a
drop of water, and our thirst was excessive. We moved forward, almost
perishing for want of moisture for our parched mouths and throats, and
gasping lungs; and in vain we endeavoured to console ourselves by the
hope of finding some brook or rivulet to relieve our anguish.

We travelled nearly seven hours in this horrible condition, without
being able to discover a drop of water, except at one place, where there
was a large ditch in which flax was steeped or deposited. I flew to it
for relief, and, though its stench was abominable, I might have drunk
copiously, had not my companions assured me that the consequence would
be an immediate death. So raging was my thirst that I had still great
difficulty in restraining myself; but at last I proceeded without
tasting it.

I have been in all climates, almost in all parts of the universe; have
endured excessive thirst at different periods of my life; have drunk
vinegar, salt water, and even sucked the tarred sails on board a ship to
endeavour to assuage that agony; but I solemnly declare that I never
felt anything equal to what I suffered from thirst during this night.

Finding no chance of obtaining water, at least in our direct course, we
unanimously agreed to approach the first village we should discover, for
the purpose of procuring a supply from some of the inhabitants’ wells.
An opportunity soon occurred, and we directed our steps with the
greatest eagerness to this much-desired spot; but previously to our
arrival at the village we descried a small orchard. My friend Tuthill,
always on the alert, and naturally, as I before observed, active and
expert, scaled the orchard wall in a very short time, notwithstanding
the constant barking of a dog on the premises, and he returned with a
supply of apples. They were very small, and of the wilding kind; but
they answered our purpose, and alleviated our distressed state. We
passed through one extremity of the village, got a supply of what we
stood so much in need of, and proceeded; keeping more to the westward
than we had lately done, in consequence of our discovery concerning
Charleville. Having plenty of water, we now got on apace, with lighter
hearts and brighter spirits.


     The journey pursued--A bivouac in a wood--Dangers of being
     shot--Making free with an orchard--Crossing the Oise--A mode of
     obtaining provisions--A cabaret and a village _fête_--Kindness of
     the peasantry--Petit Essigny--Wringing drenched garments, and
     drying them over fading embers--A miserable landlord--A change of
     quarters--Luxuries of a hay-loft--A Samaritan of a
     hostess--Wretched sufferings of Mr. Essel--Resort to another
     village--A kind landlord--Sympathies for deserters--“A
     fellow-feeling makes men wondrous kind”--The luxuries of a clean
     bed--Resort to another village--A motherly hostess--A lucky
     road-acquaintance--Virtue and happiness in humble life--The
     charitable baker--Dangers from sportsmen to gentlemen hiding in
     woods--Mr. Essel’s illness disappearing--Increased speed not always
     safe to fugitives--Coldness of the weather--An hospitable farmer--A
     French harvest-home--Hesdin--Nieuville--Étaples--Turned out of a
     straw-bed--A new inn, with a _gendarme_ in disguise in the
     kitchen--Bribing a landlord--No boat to be had--An old shepherd too
     cunning for a young lieutenant and midshipmen--Extreme
     difficulties--High hopes--Despondency and resources.

During the next day, the 5th of September, nothing particular occurred.
At dawn, having found a convenient wood, we concealed ourselves, as
usual, during the day. At night we resumed our journey, and at about
eleven we came to an immensely broad road.

About midnight we found ourselves all of a sudden at the beginning of a
street, the buildings of which were large, and the town surrounding it
appeared considerable. This discovery astonished us the more, as the
place had neither rampart nor fortification of any description, and
hitherto we had been of opinion that there was not in France a town of
this magnitude that was not well fortified. However, we had no time for
debate or consideration, for we perceived lights in many of the windows;
dogs were barking; we heard human voices in different directions; and
our danger was extreme. Luckily at this moment we happened to perceive
an opening, towards which we instantly made, and found it a by-lane
which conducted us clear out of the town; but we still remained entirely
ignorant as to what place this was, which made us determine to inquire
at the first house we should approach, and in a few minutes an
opportunity offered.

We perceived several huts on the roadside. Mr. Ashworth and myself
advanced, leaving our companions concealed; and, knocking at the door of
one of the huts, a man (as we supposed, in bed) asked what we wanted. We
answered we were poor, distressed travellers, quite hungry and faint,
and should be glad to know what distance we were from the next town. He
told us, not above a mile from Montcornet.[11] We then proceeded,
anxiously wishing for daylight, that we might ascertain on the map
whereabouts Montcornet was situated.

A little before daylight, on Sunday the 6th, having crossed an
inconsiderable river called the Serre, we halted in a wood not more than
three leagues from this town. It was very thin, which made us shift and
change our position many times before we could find any part calculated
to conceal us. At last we selected a spot, which we made tolerably
comfortable by breaking branches and placing them all round us.

At about two in the afternoon we were alarmed by a fowler and his
pointer. The dog approached us very near, and as soon as he perceived us
began to bark and yell. The master came also close to us, and kept
whistling and calling to his dog, which at this time was a great
distance from him, having retired precipitately on discovering us. The
man kept on in a direct line in pursuit of the pointer: we perceived his
legs and feet distinctly as he passed; but, from our position, were
certain he did not see us. Our trepidation may easily be imagined, as
well as our extreme joy at our hair-breadth escape.

At the usual hour we quitted our lair, and had the happiness to find
that some apple-trees just outside the wood were covered with very
excellent fruit; with which, I need scarcely observe, we all filled our
pockets and knapsacks. What little biscuit we had now remaining was
literally crumbled to dust, which made this supply of a juicy fruit
almost a luxury. The night was excessively dark, and we had a number of
awkward and severe falls.

Lieutenant Essel was now getting very much exhausted. His fatigue was
extreme, and he became unable to keep up with us. From the great
alteration which we had observed in his appearance during the last two
or three days, we began to apprehend that he would not much longer be
able to pursue the journey at any pace, and would be obliged to stop on
the way. We resolved, however, at all events, to keep with him as long
as possible. The alternative would be very painful.

On the next day, Monday the 7th, we surveyed our stock of provisions,
and found it miserably low. We were alarmed at the discovery that of
biscuit, or rather biscuit-dust, we had not even a pound, and of our
only remaining article of food, sausage, our store was about in
proportion. What to do in this critical situation we were very much at a
loss to know. One thing, at least, was certain, that to exist we must
eat, and that to eat we must have food; and hence the conclusion was
evident, that our plan, in which consisted our safety--the system of
avoiding towns, keeping away from houses, and shunning the approach of
anything connected with human nature--could not be adhered to much
longer, whilst it was difficult to conceive what other scheme could be

After a very long and not a very pleasant discussion, we came to the
conclusion that as Messrs. Tuthill and Ashworth were the most meagre in
their appearance amongst us, and, consequently, the most like Frenchmen,
they should endeavour to procure some bread at the first retired and
lonely habitation we should see early in the night. Accordingly, at
about nine o’clock, we perceived a house directly in our course, which
appeared to answer the description required. The two Frenchified
gentlemen advanced to try their address: Lieutenant Essel and myself
remained seated close to a thick-set hedge. We continued in that
position some time, waiting the result of our friends’ embassy--my poor
companion complaining grievously of the alteration in his health.
Finding they did not return, we imagined that they had, perhaps, met
with a good reception and were enjoying themselves; and we agreed, as
the house was directly in our way, to pass by it carelessly, and,
accordingly, we walked on. Just as we had passed the door, they made
their appearance, with a young man dressed like a peasant. They joined
and informed us they could procure no relief at that house; but that
there was a small village within a few hundred yards of us, and that
this young man was going to show them a public-house in it, where they
could get supplied with everything. I was decidedly of opinion that this
was a great deal too kind on his part; and I advised them, therefore, to
send this guide back, as we certainly could find the house without his
assistance; but he insisted on conducting us--inquired if we were also
of the party; and presently the village was in view, and was very small,
at which I rejoiced greatly. Many people were moving about, and our
guide informed us it was a _fête_ day.

The public-house was now before us, and the young man pointed to it,
saying, “You may enter without fear,” and quitted us. I did not like
this last observation. However, we were by this time on the threshold--a
number of people were in the doorway; there was no alternative, and in
we went. The house was crowded with both sexes, dancing and amusing
themselves. The dancing ceased immediately after we entered; every eye
was fixed upon us. We called for a place where we could sit and refresh
ourselves, and were shown into a room. We asked for some bread, cheese,
and wine; got them and ate heartily, although we could not boast of much
comfort or of being much at our ease. Several of the peasants and their
wives came and seated themselves close to our table, pressing us to take
some of their _gâteaux_. From our general appearance, and particularly
from our caps and knapsacks, they evidently mistook us for conscripts
going to the army. We told them we were going to Guise, and were obliged
to travel day and night by forced marches, in consequence of our
regiment being ordered away, and of our having remained at home too
long. Fortunately for us they were not an inquisitive people, and did
not question us about the number or the officers of the regiment, nor
about any of our circumstances. We called for our bill, and desired our
host to bring us a large loaf of bread and a bottle of brandy, as we
might want them before our joining our regiment at Guise. This being
done, they all wished us success, and we parted from them, most glad to
get rid of their company.

At daylight we stopped at a wood joining a farmhouse, on the banks of
the Oise. About seven in the evening of Tuesday the 8th we recommenced
our march, after having been greatly alarmed by a genteelly dressed lady
and two children that had passed us, with a servant, who went before her
shaking the brambles and knocking the wet off the trees. They came so
close to us as to touch the very bush that covered us. About half-past
eight we crossed the Oise in two places, and once more were obliged to
pass through a village to get to the bridge that led over that river.

At daybreak of the 9th, after a tedious and difficult march, having
traversed a number of deep-ploughed fields and stubble fields, over
hills and across valleys, we found ourselves again in the open plains,
with poor Essel scarcely able to move. This was by far the worst
situation in which we had been placed since we began our journey. On
surveying, with the utmost anxiety and attention, all around us, we
thought we could descry trees; but they were at a considerable distance,
and out of our course. We nevertheless approached them. It commenced
raining very fast; and when we had reached the much-desired spot, it
proved to be only a thin orchard, with a few scattered apple-trees. We
still kept walking on, being well assured there was no shelter for us in
our rear--at least none that was not at a great distance. We soon
discovered a little village in the very direction we were going, and
near it appeared a small wood. We advanced tolerably fast. Poor Essel
was obliged to lag a great way behind. Meeting an old peasant, we
inquired the name of the village, and found it to be Petit Essigny. He
told us there was a pathway on the right of it, if we wished to avoid
passing through. We were, he said, five leagues from St. Quentin. This
old man’s remarks appeared to us very singular: he took his leave, and
we walked on. It rained, and the morning was advancing, it being now
nearly eight o’clock. What we imagined to be a wood, adjacent to the
village, proved, upon approaching it, to be only a few shrubs; on
arriving at which we found they were pretty thick, and the grass very
high, the enclosure being surrounded by a quickset hedge. We instantly
got through this hedge, and lay close down. Our situation was very
unpleasant. The grass, which was excessively wet, added to our misery,
having been nearly soaked to the skin before we entered it. The rain off
the bushes came literally upon our poor bodies in sluices; but this was
considerably preferable to the risk of going into the village, where we
suspected that _gendarmes_ might be lurking, the place being so near a
large town. We continued in this wretched plight until about four
o’clock, when Mr. Essel became quite weak and exhausted, and the rest of
our little party were not much better. This induced us to quit this
inhospitable place and endeavour to get shelter in a house, let the
consequence be what it might.

Accordingly we approached a single hut at a short distance from the
village; entered it, and found in it a poor old peasant and two lads,
who proved to be his sons: they were shivering over a few cinders, and
appeared to be very poor and miserable. We requested that they would
make a good fire and allow us to dry our soaked clothes and to warm
ourselves; and this they did, but not until we had promised a liberal
payment. They seemed to be astonished at our appearance, and greatly at
a loss to know who and what we could be. The fire being at last made, we
gladly proceeded to wring the water out of our clothes and endeavour to
get them dry. We made the old peasant bring us some bread: he also gave
us a little butter, which by chance he had in the house; the old dame,
his wife, having taken all the rest that morning to St. Quentin market.

We imagined that we should do extremely well if the old man would allow
us to remain all night, even by his fireside, as it rained so
excessively hard that it was absolutely impossible to attempt to travel.
This was intimated to our venerable host, accompanied by an assurance
that he should have his reward; but, without hesitation, he declared to
us in the most positive manner that this was impossible. What were we to
do, for it seemed that sort of night which made the gentle Cordelia
declare that she could not turn out her enemy’s dog; and yet we,
Christians, and gentlemen, and officers to boot, seemed to be in danger
of becoming the wretches whose “houseless heads and unfed sides” were so
pitied by the mad King Lear. Our reflections were not of a very
consolatory character.

At length the old curmudgeon of a host told us that there was a
public-house in the village, where we could get supplied with
everything; and he added, that, as it was so very near, there could be
no great difficulty in our getting to it. At this moment two peasants
were passing his door, and, determined at any rate to turn us out, he
called these two fellows to guide us to the place. The men appeared very
civil, but, had it been the reverse, there was no alternative; so we
paid the old Cerberus for his scanty fire, his mouldy brown bread and
sour butter, and left his house with the disposition to shake the very
dust, or rather, in this case, the very mud, off our shoes on his
threshold. The figure of this flinty host of ours is still before me. He
was a tall, thin, misshapen fellow; and the effects of his cadaverous
and hideous countenance were not improved by a most sinister squint, and
a malign, ill-natured sneer, that might well warn the unfortunate that
they had little of humanity to expect at his hands.

Under our civil guides we soon arrived at the village, and, to our
inexpressible joy, found it to be a small and miserable place. Our
guides showed us the public-house and took their leave. We entered this
poverty-stricken hovel, and found that the good landlady had nothing to
give us but bread and eggs; and further, that there was not a bed in the
house, her guests being accustomed to sleep in a loft where there was
plenty of clean hay. This, however, was luxurious to poor wanderers, who
had fed and slept in the manner in which we had ever since we had
escaped from prison. But we had to study appearances, and, as there was
no other inn (as they termed the wretched hovel) in the village, we
seemed to hesitate whether we should remain here, or proceed to the next
considerable town or to St. Quentin, and we accordingly inquired how
far it was off. Our hostess replied that it was not above three or four
miles to a tolerably large village, but that St. Quentin was two leagues
distant. We pretended to be much chagrined at this information, and told
her that it rained too hard for us to go that distance, and,
inconvenient as it was, we would remain with her and sleep in the
hay-loft that night, in preference to being exposed any longer to the
inclemency of the weather. We had a good fire made, completed the drying
of our clothes, got some supper, and retired to the hay-loft. The kind
woman gave us two blankets to cover us. We found this accommodation
sufficiently good, and we very soon fell fast asleep.

The next day, fortunately for us (as it kept us under cover), was very
bad, raining without intermission. We continued in our loft, except one
of us, who went to procure breakfast, and to inform the landlady (who we
found was a widow) that we would stay until evening, in hopes that the
rain might cease. We sent her our tattered garments, stockings, etc., to
mend. We could move about without much fear in this place, as we found
they were utter strangers to the sight of a _gendarme_. The good lady
took us for conscripts, and commiserated our situation. She had a
brother in the army, then in Prussia; and she brought us a letter to
read that she had lately received from him. I said that I had served in
the same regiment, with which she was very much pleased.

At about seven we paid this worthy old hostess, and took our leave. It
was a clear, starlight night, and the weather promised favourably; but
the ground was so excessively slippery and muddy that we could scarcely
prevent ourselves from falling every step we took. At about ten, Mr.
Essel was seized with a violent bleeding at the nose and mouth. We
feared that he had burst a blood-vessel. This, together with a dysentery
which he had been troubled with for some time, rendered him so
excessively weak that he could not move a step. We were greatly affected
at this misfortune, and agreed to convey him to the next house we should
find. Fortunately, the village alluded to by our landlady, when we first
arrived at her house, was in sight, and the view of it gave our sick
friend fresh courage; but we were apprehensive it was too large for our
security; however, we were resolved at all events to procure him a
lodging there, and to be vigilant, and if we perceived any danger, to be
off instantly. About half-past eleven we arrived at this village, and,
to our joy, it proved to be by far inferior to what we had expected. Mr.
Ashworth went into a public-house to reconnoitre, and to inquire if food
and shelter could be supplied to our suffering friend. He returned
shortly with the glad tidings that he had succeeded, and he assured us
that, from all he could observe, he was convinced that we should incur
no danger by remaining at the inn for the whole night, and even for the
next day. The joy this intelligence spread amongst us is hardly
conceivable. We all accordingly agreed most cordially to remain with our
unfortunate friend, sincerely hoping that he might by the next night get
rid of his malady and recover some portion of his strength. The bleeding
had ceased, a symptom which we construed to be much in his favour, and
at last we all entered the public-house, the sick gentleman and myself
bringing up the rear.

We were very civilly received by the landlord, a decent young man, who
showed us into a nice, clean, and comfortable back-room, in which there
was a separate bed for each of us. It was rather startling, however, to
hear him assure us that “we were perfectly safe with him”; for this
guarantee of safety, even if sincere, at least implied that we were
objects of suspicion. Our doubts, however, were soon dispelled, for he
added, to our great relief, “I have been situated in a similar manner
once myself, and shall ever have a fellow-feeling for others under such
unhappy circumstances. When I quitted the army as a conscript, I
travelled several hundred miles by night, and concealed myself in woods
in the daytime.” This was consolatory, and we gave him _nods_ of assent
and approbation; for it was dangerous to speak, as a word or two would
have led to a conversation, in which it might not have been convenient
to answer questions with truth, and not easy to evade them by ingenuity,
or even to defeat them by falsehood.

We took our refreshment with the keenness which showed that we had not
lately been accustomed to good cheer, and we found, or flattered
ourselves that we found, that our sick friend was already getting
better. Each retired to his bed, as happy as any creature in the
universe. Heavens! What a paradise! It is not in my power to express or
to give any idea of the delight and happiness I felt at being once more
in a comfortable bed, with everything neat and clean about me. We had
been thirteen days and nights without once taking off our clothes,
except the preceding night in the hay-loft, when we had our garments
repaired, and those days and nights had been passed, the former in
sleeping, as chance might be, in mud, bog, or quagmire, or on dry or wet
green leaves, whilst the latter had been spent in toiling, upon empty
stomachs and with parched throats, over all the bad grounds and awkward
impediments which must be encountered by travellers who have private
reasons for avoiding highways or beaten tracks. Such sufferings are
wonderfully conducive to make men feel and be thankful for the comforts
of a good bed; and I need not observe that we all remained in bed, not
only throughout the night, but throughout the greater part of the next
day [Friday, 11th].

As soon as it became dusk we paid our bill, which was moderate, with
gratitude; and, taking a most friendly leave of our simple-minded and
kind-hearted host, we again buckled on our knapsacks and resumed our
habit of travelling at night-time. Essel was greatly refreshed; we found
ourselves comparatively quite strong and well, from the last night’s

At daylight on the 12th it began to rain incessantly and in torrents; we
were then very near a small village. Our late success made us more bold
than we had been at our first setting out, and having no wood to shelter
us, we resolved to go into the village. We found it very well calculated
for our purpose, and got admitted into a public-house; where, after
procuring something to eat, we requested permission to lie down to rest
a little in any place, expecting to be shown into a hay-loft,--but we
were agreeably surprised; for our good old landlady put sheets on the
only two beds she had, and told us we might rest ourselves on them until
night. We perceived that she also supposed we were conscripts. She got
Mr. Essel something warm, and appeared very attentive. At dusk we paid
the good dame, and, as usual, began our march. Poor Essel complained a
great deal, and my feet began to swell; although they were not painful,
I feared some bad consequence from their swelling. About ten, our friend
declared he could not advance a step farther; consequently, we sat down
to allow him time to rest. We agreed to wait with him a day or two, to
see if he should improve, but were greatly at a loss where to take him
for this night. Thus meditating, we were joined by a man going our road.
He saluted us very kindly, and expressed his sorrow at seeing our
comrade so ill. The worthy fellow was in a cheerful mood, and evidently
of a communicative nature, and seemed disposed to let us know all about
himself and his affairs, which was by far more convenient to us than had
he expected equal frankness on our part. He informed us that he was a
baker, and was returning from the place where he had been at work the
whole week, to his little family, in a village about two miles off. The
honest fellow appeared to derive a sort of melancholy satisfaction in
dwelling upon the memory of his wife, who, he added mournfully, had
recently died, leaving him three young orphans. The good-hearted man
concluded his unsophisticated, open garrulity, by informing us that he
had two good beds, to which he assured us that we were welcome, and he
gave us this welcome with such a frankness and warmth that no cynic
could suspect guile in such a character, or could be unwarmed by
gratitude at his benevolent nature. The honest baker added to his other
assurances that he would procure for us everything we could want or
might desire. It was evident that we were always to be mistaken for
conscripts _on a retreat_, for this our jolly companion assured us with
a knowing look, adding, “that his village was small, and that there was
no danger with him.” Our hearts felt the truth of this, and withal its
inestimable value.

We soon arrived at this poor man’s dwelling, and he seemed as glad to
receive us as if he had by good fortune unexpectedly found some friends
or kindred that had been long absent and dear to his heart. He made a
blazing fire, and bade the children get up and prepare the beds for our
reception. This they cheerfully did, and then retired to their loft. We
felt that we were particularly safe with this poor hospitable stranger,
and the whole domestic scene was at least calculated to impress upon us
the truth that contentment, happiness, generosity, and the best feelings
of our nature are not the exclusive heritage of the rich. We warmed
ourselves over his glowing hearth, wished him good-night, and gladly
sank into our comfortable beds.

The next day our hospitable friend procured us all the things we wanted.
In every respect nothing could have been more kind and liberal than the
conduct of this unpretending, humble, and good man; and the reader, in
the sequel, will have further proofs of my just estimate of his

As we had promised our friend Essel, we waited until dusk on Sunday the
13th, and then paid our host liberally for all we had received. He
escorted us a mile or two on the road and took his leave, as if sorry to
part, but full of satisfaction that he had had an opportunity of so well
performing a duty to those who were in the extremities of need.

At a little before daylight on the 14th (September), we entered a wood,
and found a very convenient place for our concealment. We conjectured
that we were about five leagues from Arras. At about eleven we were
alarmed by the noise and whistling of a fowler with a dog, and in a few
minutes we heard the report of his gun; the shot rattled through the
bushes in which we lay, and a partridge perched close to us. This
circumstance alarmed us prodigiously, as we could hear the man and dog
advancing towards the very spot. To move would have been imprudent,
since he was so very close that it was impossible to avoid being
discovered. We waited the event, without the smallest hope of escaping
from being seen--the dog advanced--flushed the partridge nearly at our
feet--the fowler close to us. Fortunately the bird took an opposite
direction to the spot where we remained concealed, and the master and
dog followed, and in a few minutes relieved us from the consternation
they had thrown us into.

At the usual hour, on the night of the 14th of September, we left our
leafy concealment to commence our nocturnal progress; and we were put
into good spirits by finding our friend’s health greatly improved. We
walked a great distance this night, in order to make up for our recent
delays and stoppages; but we had nearly been victims to the old proverb,
“The more haste the worse speed”; and we found that it was less
essential to our safety to travel fast, than to contrive to stop, at or
before daybreak, within the reach of some wood sufficiently large and
thick to hide us. At dawn, however, on Tuesday the 15th, to our great
dismay, we found ourselves on an open plain, and we anxiously stretched
our eyes in every direction, but could not discern the least appearance
of a wood, although, to our alarm, we beheld several villages. As our
comrade was much better, we determined to proceed, avoiding human
habitations as much as possible. After we had passed by the first
village, we discovered a copse or shrubbery near the second; so we
quickened our pace, and, advancing rapidly, we entered it at its part
the most remote from the village. It proved to be merely a nursery, and
but thinly stocked with small trees, or even shrubs; but we selected the
spot most favourable to our object, and happily we contrived to conceal
ourselves in it until darkness afforded us the usual motive to our
sortie. At eleven, as we were passing a small village, being excessively
thirsty, and not able to discover any watering place, we agreed _to
border close_, in the hope of being able to procure some water at one of
the wells with which these villages abound. Mr. Ashworth and our sick
comrade were employed in getting some, while Mr. Tuthill and myself
retired to a small distance, under cover of a quickset hedge. Two women
and a man passed close by us. The women continued to walk on, but the
latter halted and turned on his heel. I was next to him. He eyed me
closely, and exclaimed, “_Vous-êtes Anglois?_” To which I replied, “_Je
suis aussi bon François que vous, je l’espère_.” This was the only time
in the whole course of my life that I had felt afraid to acknowledge my
country. The women, hearing the conversation, called to the fellow “to
come along and mind his own business.” He appeared to wish to remain;
but, on their repeatedly calling him, he left us. Having been joined by
our companions, we proceeded.

At break of day on Wednesday the 16th, we got into an excellent thick
wood, and found a material change in the weather as we advanced to the
northward; sometimes there was a sort of grey frost, which made us
extremely cold before the rising of the sun; nor could we at all times
receive the benefit of that heavenly body until noon, owing to the
thickness of the part of the wood that we were (when practicable)
obliged to occupy. We found an abundance of filberts, filled our pockets
with them, and felt particularly happy at succeeding thus far. This was
the last wood we expected to inhabit prior to our seeing the sea-coast;
and we were, at times, replete with the idea of its being the last night
we should remain in the land of usurpation and tyranny. At the usual
time we commenced our route, and left the town of St. Pol about two
miles on our left-hand side.

At about ten our progress was impeded by the river Canche. After
examining it in several directions without success, we agreed to send
Mr. Ashworth to a farmhouse hard by, to inquire the nearest place that
we could cross; from whence he returned in a few minutes with one of the
farmer’s men, who had been desired to direct him, and assured us the
people were extremely civil. It appeared to him to be a good place to
get a supply of provisions--we were excessively hungry,--and, as the
passage across the river was immediately at the end of the farmhouse,
and as they had already discovered our number, we mutually consented to
put the farmer’s hospitality to the test, and, if possible, to procure
what we wanted. We advanced with the man, who showed us in; and we were
very kindly received by the master of the house, who conducted us into a
decent back-room. The kitchen, when we first entered, was full of
peasantry at supper.

The farmer’s harvest had been that day finished, or gathered in, and he
was giving his labourers a feast on the occasion, which, we were told,
was an immemorial custom in that part of the country, throughout which
many things reminded us of our own. In fact, we were now in the midst
of a French harvest-home; and, though the scene was gratifying, yet in
our peculiar situation we should have been by far better pleased had we
been alone. All was joy and happiness under this rustic and hospitable
roof, if I except the twinges of apprehension that now and then would
disturb me and my friends. Nothing, however, could surpass the attention
and kindness of this good farmer. He supplied us spontaneously with
everything that his house could afford. Certain it is that he took us
for Frenchmen and conscripts, and thought, perhaps, that we were going
to fight for the glory of France, under the eagles of the new emperor.
Little did he suspect that we were English naval officers, encountering
all dangers and enduring all hardships, for the sake of once more
fighting under

    The flag that braved a thousand years
    The battle and the breeze.

As our host would not accept of any payment for what we had received, we
made a present to the servant who was to guide us, and we took our leave
of this good man full of gratitude for his kindness.

We conjectured that we were not more than seven leagues from Étaples, a
town on the mouth of the river Canche, with a tolerably good harbour for
small vessels. This put us in such good spirits that even Mr. Essel, in
spite of his weakness, was determined to go that distance before
daylight. We quickened our pace, and proceeded, with light hearts and
full of hope.

We passed the strong town of Hesdin at midnight, and as might be
supposed, we took care to keep a very respectful distance from it. At
daylight on Thursday the 17th, to our great mortification, we found
that we were at least three leagues from Étaples. We had exerted
ourselves right manfully, and had performed our allotted task; but the
journey was much longer than we had supposed when we quitted the
farmhouse. A bourg, or municipal town, called Nieuville, lay now
immediately in our route, without our having any means of avoiding it,
on account of the serpentine course of the river. Neither wood nor
anything else to shelter us was in view. Our situation was most
critical, and we unwillingly came to the conclusion that was
obvious--pass through the town we must. Our object was to get through it
before any, or at least many, of the inhabitants could be up, and by
dint of a quick pace. This we happily accomplished. As soon as possible
we struck across the fields; but, to our dismay, no appearance of a wood
could be discovered. Even in the fields people were moving in different
directions, and it was not much to our comfort that we observed many of
them to be military. Surrounded by such numerous difficulties, we
resolved to go into a small contiguous village, imagining that even this
would be less dangerous than to remain straying and wandering in the
open fields. We arrived about eight o’clock at a hut in the village;
avoiding the public-house, as there are, in general, police officers, or
_gendarmes_, lurking around such places when in the vicinity of large
towns. We asked the inhabitants if they could provide us breakfast. They
replied, “Yes, we can give you some milk-soup and bread.” We approved of
this repast very much; and, after paying them, we requested they would
have the goodness to allow us to repose ourselves for a few hours in
some convenient place; but this they refused, hinting that they
suspected that we were deserters from the camp at Boulogne. We assured
them, upon our words of honour, they were very much mistaken; that, on
the contrary, we were going that way, but were so very much fatigued,
and having a sick comrade, we wanted a little rest. After importuning
them a long time, and promising a good reward, they allowed us to go
into a barn-loft full of straw. We were particularly obliged to them,
and perfectly contented with this apartment; but, when nearly settled,
and each had got covered over with straw, to our great mortification and
annoyance, the owner came, having repented of his granting permission to
enter it, and insisted upon our instantly quitting his premises. All our
rhetoric with this fellow was in vain. So we were compelled to quit our
habitation about eleven o’clock, and walk towards another more
respectable village. We inquired of a shepherd, on entering this place,
if he could direct us to a public-house; and he pointed out one to us.
We proceeded, but with little hopes of escaping from being discovered or
arrested. However, we determined to call for a private room the moment
we arrived at the cabaret, being in hopes (if we could avoid police
officers in passing to a private apartment) we might stand a chance of
remaining unnoticed until night. In this we succeeded; and, being
supplied with refreshments, we were provided with a suitable apartment
immediately. The only person in the house was a girl of about eighteen
years of age, who made us a comfortable fire, and shook up two beds,
that we might rest a little if we pleased. Seeing that there was no
danger, we pretended to be quite at our ease, and coolly asked her where
her father and mother were. She replied, “That the former was watching
the sheep outside of the village, and that the latter was gone to
Étaples.” We found by her description of her father that he was the very
man who had directed us to her. She asked us, “If we were not conscripts
going to the camp of Boulogne?” We answered in the affirmative; and
begged her not to let anybody enter our room, as we had several things
to settle amongst ourselves and wished to be in private. She promised to
obey us; but little did her acquiescence bring confidence or comfort,
when she added that there was at that moment a _gendarme_ in the kitchen
in the disguise of a peasant. This was enough to render us tremulous.
But even this was not all; for she informed us that this _gendarme_ had
just come from Boulogne with a party, in order to procure forage for the
_gendarmes_’ horses there. We had evidently got into a hornet’s nest, or
almost within the jaws of the lion; but, preserving as much the
appearance of tranquillity as possible, we informed her that we had not
the least desire to see anybody but her father, with whom we wished to
have some conversation. She promised to send for him as soon as her
guest in the kitchen had quitted the house. The “soon” was devoutly to
be wished; and glad were we when, in a short time, we were told that he
had taken his departure. The girl now sent for her father; and her
mother also returned. We were in great hopes that, as these people were
very poor, we might be able to induce them to procure us a boat, through
the medium of some of their friends, the fishermen on the coast, who
might not be temptation-proof, or impervious to the influence of a few
_louis d’or_. Convinced that nothing much could be accomplished without
this all-powerful metal, each of us began to search in the different
parts of his garments for his due proportion. We had been obliged to
take the precaution of stitching what gold coin we had in the seams of
our clothes, that we might not lose it in the event of our being
arrested. To our great sorrow--and, I may add, astonishment--Mr. Essel
discovered that his gold coin, to the amount of £45 sterling, had
slipped out of a pad which he had contrived for the purpose of
concealing it, and which he had always worn round his neck in his
neck-handkerchief; nor could he recollect having untied it but once
since we set out, and that was at the worthy baker’s cottage, where he
suspected he had left it. This baker had appeared to be an honest man,
and, as I have already observed, had behaved excessively kindly to us.
It was possible that the money might have been left there without our
host having seen it until after our departure; but the poor fellow could
have no opportunity of restoring the treasure to its right and now
embarrassed owner. The loss was to us, at that moment, very distressing,
but not irreparable, as we still had a tolerably good sum, and
Lieutenant Essel and myself had two gold watches, sufficient, as we
trusted, to inspirit the shepherd and induce him to assist us. He at
length arrived; when, after taking every feasible means of enjoining
secrecy, we disclosed our situation, object, and what we were, and
promised to reward him very liberally, provided he could procure us a
conveyance across the Channel. We were certain, we observed, that he
must have a number of seafaring acquaintances on the coast, and we would
make it well worth their trouble to assist us. He hesitated very much at
first; but, having shown him a purse, and repeating our promises of
reward, he assured us he would try every possible means, and he declared
that, at all events, we were perfectly safe under his roof, and that he
would proceed to see what he could accomplish. We were greatly elated,
and were almost certain of succeeding, from his not raising any
obstacles. Our anxiety for this fellow’s return is not to be described:
every individual that passed appeared to be somebody he had sent, or was
about to bring, to agree with us for our passage. The much-wished-for
moment, as we thought, at length arrived, when the old shepherd, with a
demure countenance, opened our door, and, having closed it again with
the utmost caution, began to inform us, “That all his search to procure
a boat had been ineffectual; that the fishermen along the coast were
constrained to bring their boats to Étaples and lay them up there,
whence they dared not move without a passport from the commandant of the
town, as well as a soldier as a guard in each boat, to prevent their
having communication with the English cruisers or going without the
limits. They were also under the necessity of going out and returning
only in the daytime.” To our vexation and grief, the fellow added, “that
we could not remain in his house any longer than the dusk of the
evening, as he was obliged to return an account to the mayor of the
village of every stranger that might be with him after dark, taking his
passport at the same time for the mayor’s inspection;” and the fellow
concluded all this anything but comfortable information and kindness by
lifting up his hat, scratching his head, and saying, “I hope, gentlemen,
you will reward me for my pains and for keeping counsel.” We were
absolutely confounded. We stood amazed--staring at each other; and for
some time were unable to utter a word. At length I broke silence, and
observed, “That it was the fault of his _better half_, who appeared to
us, from the instant we had seen her, to be a bitter, malignant
creature. She, no doubt, had been consulted;” and her sour looks and
conduct upon every occasion convinced us all that this opinion was well

Having nothing to expect from this unfeeling and unprincipled couple, we
paid them liberally for all we had had, and for all they had done, or
pretended to have done; and as soon as it was dark we left their, to us,
not agreeable abode. The point of departure had been a subject of
altercation; for, as soon as they had received our money, they insisted
upon turning us out; whilst we, for our own purposes, as resolutely
maintained our right to remain until it was dark. Both of the
inhospitable pair had repeatedly threatened to call in the mayor, in
order to arrest us, if we remained a moment longer; but this could
scarcely have been worse than running the risk of being seen in the
daytime. However, darkness at length shrouded the earth, and we left
this unpropitious roof with no very merciful, or, we fear, Christian
feelings, towards those that drove us out.

When in the open air, we were utterly perplexed as to how we should act
and as to what course we should steer. We began to imagine that what we
had been told respecting the boats might be partly true. Sometimes we
supposed that it would be better to proceed towards Rotterdam; at others
we thought of recrossing the Canche and directing our wearisome course
towards St. Valery; at others we imagined it would be better to repair
to any port where we might be likely to find an American or other
neutral vessel, in which we might escape; but at last we agreed
unanimously to cross the river, as at all events the safest plan for
that night, and afterwards to proceed to some villages that might be
close down on the sea-coast. We were thus consulting, or had just come
to this conclusion, when the shepherd’s daughter made her appearance,
and gently told us, “That her father had sent her to show us a house
where we were sure of finding a person that would be of service to us,
and who would put us across the river; which was,” she added, “by far
the safest side.” We thanked the girl, who appeared the whole evening
very much affected at the conduct of her parents; and she returned,
begging us not to mention who had directed us--which, of course, we
promised, and we kept our word. One of us was now deputed to
reconnoitre. It was about ten o’clock; the house was on the side of the
road, and a number of soldiers were passing on their route to the camp:
this circumstance retarded our project, as we were obliged to keep
within a hedge until the military had passed, and by this time it was
full eleven o’clock. Then Mr. Tuthill (the deputed person) advanced; and
soon returned and informed us that he had seen a man who had given him
some hopes, and that he would rejoin us shortly. This was most welcome
news. The person made his appearance, and told us he would direct us to
a friend’s house on the other side, who would, he believed, do what we
wished. Heavens! what joyful intelligence! “His boat,” he said, “would
put us across as soon as she should be afloat; the tide of flood was
then making, and he would return again to where we were in an hour, by
which time he supposed the boat would be ready.” This put us in the
highest spirits. An hour ago we were in the depths of despair; our
feelings of joy were now heightened by contrast. With the vividness of
lightning flashed across my mind all our past sufferings; and, from the
number of dangers which we had almost miraculously escaped, it struck me
that we were special favourites of Fortune, and that we were about to
reap the glorious object of all our wishes. Habit, however, had taught
us distrust and caution; and we shifted our situation, lest this
stranger might turn out to be a false friend, or a scoundrel sent to
deceive us, and we placed ourselves where we could easily discover
whether he had any auxiliaries with him when he came back. At the
appointed time he came to where he expected to find us, by himself,
which convinced us that his intentions were more honest than we had
supposed. In a few minutes we were carried to the opposite side, where
he secured his boat, and guided us to the house above-mentioned,
assuring us that they were people we could depend upon, and who had many
friends, fishermen, on the water-side. He would not enter the cottage,
or hut, but quitted us at the threshold, having received a sufficient
recompense for the trouble we had given. We knocked repeatedly at the
door. It began to rain very heavily; nor could we gain admittance until
we had given many assurances that we were particular friends who only
wished to be sheltered a few minutes from the inclemency of the night.
These protestations at length gained us permission to enter.


     A false direction and an appalling repulse--A bribe refused--A
     deluge, and shelter in a barn--A fatal resolution--Dangers of
     fugitives journeying by daylight--A market-day at Étaples--Passing
     through crowds not very convenient for runaway prisoners of war--An
     attempt to reach the sand-hills on the coast--A bold progress
     through a despicable village--The last house--Parching thirst, and
     begging for a draught of water--An acquiescence, or reply, in the
     shape of two custom-house officers--Our capture--A clever fiction
     well devised, better sustained, and totally defeated--Getting rid
     of suspicious goods--An examination before the mayor--Americanism
     and the American gentleman--An awkward exposure--A _mittimus_ to
     Boulogne gaol--An examination of our persons and clothes--Our fate
     sealed, and hope destroyed.

Both the man and woman of the house stared at us with great amazement;
and, finding that we were utter strangers, they begged to know what we
wanted, and why we had disturbed them so unseasonably. This reception
was rather portentous and appalling; but humility becomes the
unfortunate, and we humbly begged that they would make themselves quite
easy, for we were absolutely come as friends in great distress, to
solicit protection and assistance. This appeased them; and we proceeded
to state that we were Frenchmen, who wished to be conveyed as quickly as
possible into some part of Normandy or Brittany. We made them very
liberal offers; but, to our dismay, they were thoroughly
“temptation-proof.” To all our bribery their hearts and minds were as
cold as asbestos. The woman at last observed, “that it was true that she
had a brother who was a fisherman on the sea-coast,” and our eyes
glistened at what we thought was the beginning of good news; but then
came the sad addenda, that his boat had been taken round to Étaples, and
that when he wished to fish he was obliged to embark under the
surveillance and regulations which had been described to us by the
shepherd. Alas! alas! we began to fear that the shepherd was not the
egregious liar we had taken him for. The woman’s story was confirmed by
the husband; and both assured us that, upon our knocking at their door,
they had suspected us to be _gendarmes_ in disguise. These fellows, it
appeared, were frequently in the habit of practising such tricks upon
their countrymen. The good old couple, however, soon insisted upon our
quitting their house, and in a manner which proved that they were not
accustomed to make use of much ceremony. In vain did we point out to
them our miserable plight, and expatiate upon the extreme badness of the
weather. We talked of the excessive darkness of the night, the torrents
of rain that were pouring as if heaven and earth were coming in contact,
and we entreated them to allow us to shelter ourselves in any barn,
cow-house, or even pig-sty; but we might as well have appealed to an
Egyptian mummy. In proportion as we were mendicant they became
peremptory, and even fierce; and at last we were obliged to depart in
what seemed little less than a deluge. As soon as they saw that they had
got us over the threshold, some few and faint feelings of commiseration
seemed to touch their obdurate breasts, and they had the charity to
point out to us a direction which led to a barn, which they assured us
was full of hay, and seldom visited, so that we could very safely remain
concealed in it until the following night. They further advised us to
proceed either to Dieppe or St. Valery, as the two ports at which it was
most probable that we should succeed in procuring a boat.

We shortly discovered the barn, and had the good fortune to arrive at it
a little before daylight. We found it full of hay, as they had stated; a
most timely relief for us, being quite drenched with the incessant rain,
and all over mud and dirt. Each soon found, or made, a convenient hole
for himself through the hay, taking the precaution to work a good way
down and to cover himself well over, lest our steps into this place
should lead to a suspicion and we might be found out. We fell into a
most profound sleep; nor did I awake until nine o’clock in the morning
(Friday, 18th Sept.), when I heard my name called repeatedly by Mr.
Tuthill. He proposed that we should quit that place immediately, and get
down to the sea-side, as the day was the only time to succeed in
procuring a boat, from the method they had taken of securing all vessels
at night. I used the most forcible arguments I was master of to dissuade
them from so rash a proceeding; and pointed out the caution we had
observed in the inland parts of the country as the only thing that had
ensured our success in arriving where we then were; although there had
been much less danger in the interior than on the sea-coast, where there
would be, of course, a strict look-out kept by custom-house officers,
_gardes de côte_, etc. I suggested, as the better plan, to wait until
night: we could, in the event of not succeeding, always make this our
rendezvous, and could return to it before daylight, procuring
subsistence at some lonely cottage during the night. All my rhetoric was
in vain: they appeared determined to try their fortune by daylight. I
then requested, at any rate, that they would wait until noon,--the usual
time for the country people to dine,--as we might with the more ease get
away unnoticed. This was at last agreed to; so we remained buried in the
hay until the hour of noon, when, unperceived by anybody, we crept out,
and, getting upon the highway, proceeded in the direction we had
intended to take. We put a bold front upon disastrous affairs, and, with
apparent intrepidity, we marched on. Unluckily, it was market-day at
Étaples, and the road was crowded with people going to and returning
from the ferry-boat. Our only plan was to walk directly through them, on
the principle that no man whose object was flight and escape would walk
amid crowds of enemies in open day. This was the only course that we
could adopt; and, though all our calculations proved to be miserably
erroneous, and our hopes fallacious, still I had nothing with which I
had to reproach myself.

We kept advancing towards the sand-hills with all the appearance of
carelessness and confidence, but with a quick, and, as far as we could
assume appearances, a bold and firm step; and we arrived at last at a
poor, sorry village, through which we had to pass. We had actually got
to the very last house, when our poor friend Ashworth felt extremely
exhausted, and expressed that his parching thirst obliged him to ask for
a draught of water. On all such occasions every one of the party was
consulted, and the majority of votes constituted the ultimatum, or
decision; and whether a long train of success, or a long succession of
narrow escapes, had made us vainly confident, I cannot say, but not one
of us saw the slightest danger in Ashworth’s entering this house. It was
impossible to suppose that so wretched a village could contain either
troops or _gendarmes_; and as we had passed through the place without
attracting any notice whatever, we did not imagine that there could be
any danger in entering the last house at its extremity. The glorious
sea, with all its inspirations, was before us, and we laughed at what we
had undergone, for our hearts were light, and our minds were full of the
glad prospects of our attaining to all our wishes.

Ashworth entered the house, and we advanced slowly, lagging and
loitering for him to rejoin us. His absence appeared very
long--unnecessarily so. Suspense and impatience gave way to suspicion,
and suspicion was succeeded by alarm. I shall never forget my
conflicting emotions--they grew stronger and stronger every moment. At
length, Mr. Tuthill broke silence, and expressed a wish to go and
ascertain what had detained our companion. Essel and myself remained on
the side of the road, anxiously looking out. They very soon appeared;
and, to our inexpressible grief and mortification, were conducted by two
armed men in a uniform entirely foreign to us. These soon proved to be
_douaniers_, or custom-house officers, with which, at that period, the
coast of France abounded; but none of them had ever fallen under our
observation or cognisance. I clearly perceived that these fellows had
taken both our companions into custody, from the manner in which they
approached. When they had joined us, Mr. Ashworth introduced me to them
as Captain Cox, of the ship _Favourite_, of New York--the story fixed
upon in case of being stopped. We had been cast away near Marseilles,
and all hands had perished, except Florence Heath (Mr. Ashworth), mate;
William Dixon (Mr. Tuthill), supercargo; and Mr. Essel (whose new name I
now forget), passenger. We were bound to Barcelona. Cargo--slaves and
cotton. Only the supercargo and mate could speak French. They appeared
to commiserate our situation, and had not the least doubt but that what
we alleged was true. “But they must take us,” they said, “to the mayor
of the town, who would, no doubt, grant us passports to proceed to some
seaport, whence we could take shipping for America, or any other place
we pleased.” We expressed our warmest thanks for this mark of their
attention; but (if they pleased) we added, “That we did not wish to put
them to the inconvenience of going out of their way on our account.”
They replied, “That it was entirely in their way; and it was impossible
we could proceed along the coast without papers: they were only
astonished how we had crossed the kingdom of France (or, more properly
speaking, the empire) without being arrested. We had been much to blame
in not having procured passports prior to our quitting Marseilles.” We
assured them we were ignorant of its being in the smallest degree
necessary, that we were born in a country where nothing of the kind was
required, and where it would be deemed a very great insult to ask any
person where he came from or whither he was going. We, of course,
alluded to public functionaries; for we well recollected the proverbial
character of the Americans for inquisitiveness, and Dr. Franklin’s story
of his putting up a printed board over his apartment, whenever he
arrived in an American town, so full of all particulars relating to
himself as to render it impossible, as he thought, for even American
curiosity to intrude upon his privacy with a question.

We of course regretted that we had not been more enlightened upon the
laws and customs of “_ce pays ci_,” and at length we arrived at the
ferry-boat, and in a few minutes found ourselves in the town of Étaples,
under different circumstances and in a different company from what he
had desired or expected. We still entertained hopes of escape; but,
unfortunately, each of us had about his person many things most
inconvenient to be inspected by French _douaniers_, and most unlikely to
corroborate our fiction of our being shipwrecked Americans. My brains
were set to work to “get to windward” of this quicksand, and I whispered
to my “mate” to intimate to his unwelcome or awkward friends, that I was
fatigued, and that I wished to take some little refreshment at any
convenient inn before I had the honour of appearing before the mayor.
Our civil conductors consented that the fatigued gentleman should take
what refreshment he stood in need of, and of which, I need scarcely say,
they intended to be participators. We arrived at a cabaret, were allowed
to enter, were conducted into a good room, and, as if I were the most
easy and indifferent gentleman that ever proceeded from America, I
called authoritatively for a supply of bread and wine. During this
repast we alternately had an excuse for retiring: I need not say that we
took care to get rid of almost every article that might prove that our
fiction had not the saving grace of probability.

We at last made the best of a very bad or unpromising case; and, putting
on the appearance of unconcern and mirth, we followed our conductors.
They told us that they were under the necessity of waiting upon their
captain previously to going before the mayor. He received me and my
companions with politeness, and all things seemed to indicate that the
interview might pass off without danger, until he politely told me that
he must send for the mayor to be present at our examination. This
changed the whole complexion of the case; and I am sure the effect must
have been visible in most of our countenances. At length, “His Worship”
arrived, not at all to our comfort; but what rendered his presence more
annoying was his bringing with him “_an American gentleman_.” It is said
that the society of a gentleman is always desirable; but the ghosts did
not strike more terror into “the soul of Richard” than the reality of
this American gentleman’s appearance struck terror into ours. The mayor
and the American gentleman engaged us, “yard-arm and yard-arm.” Their
cross-examination was worse than a raking fire. We had only to repeat
our former story. At last our unlucky genius, the American gentleman,
plainly stated to us that they suspected us to be Englishmen--which we
had no means of disproving. The mayor added that we were to be committed
to the prison of Boulogne until the authorities heard from the American
consul at Paris, or until they were thoroughly convinced of the veracity
of our statement. These were disastrous “untils”; and it struck me that
if they waited for the alternative of them, we might remain in gaol to

The result was, what less sanguine and less interested men might have
anticipated--we were to be ordered to a dungeon, under an escort of
_gendarmerie_. The brigadier, who seemed to have all the hundred eyes of
Argus condensed into two, asked if we had been searched. The answer was
in the negative. “Search them instantly,” cried he; “and,” he added,
“depend upon it they are Englishmen, who have escaped from one of the
depots.” The fellows were obedient to command, and we were immediately
put under as severe a scrutiny as ever man was subjected to. I was the
first person to be rummaged. My pocket-book was opened, and in it were
several English letters, with other papers equally calculated to
disprove the veracity of my being an American captain shipwrecked at
Marseilles. My resource was to say that my pocket-book belonged to a
cousin who had perished with the wreck. On the others were found maps of
the departments that we had gone through, with several other papers,
which identified us to be what they suspected.

However, we still persisted in being Americans. They remonstrated on the
folly of such an imposition, and ordered us into a dungeon, assuring us
that we should be now very roughly treated, and considered as dangerous
people; whereas a frank confession might cause some mitigation. After a
little deliberation we clearly perceived the inutility of holding out;
so we at once acknowledged who and what we were. The brigadier assured
us that he had been confident from the moment he first saw us that we
were English, and he would now do everything in his power to comfort us
under our present embarrassments, but he had no superior officer of his
corps nearer than Boulogne, where he should send us the next day; and
for that night he would allow us to go to an inn to get ourselves a
little in order, but with a strong escort; and we should be obliged to
provide that escort with every necessary, and to pay the men six livres
(five shillings) each for the night. This we readily agreed to. Once
more we were prisoners: our state of mind was truly miserable.

At the inn we bought a new shirt and pair of stockings each, and got our
old ones, which were in a sad condition, washed and mended. They
supplied us with tolerably good beds, of which we were extremely anxious
to take possession. After supper we were in the act of going to bed,
when an order came, from the commanding officer of a camp adjacent, to
conduct us to his tent--which was quickly put into execution. He
appeared, in manners, the reverse of the general character of the
French. He perused all my letters, which were of no consequence to any
one existing except myself,--and which were never returned to me,--and
declared he was certain we had emissaries on the coast, otherwise we
could never have attempted so perilous a journey. This was, at least, a
compliment to our daring enterprise; and when we assured him that we had
had no connection whatever with the people on the coast, he replied with
a “Bah!” and concluded with an “Ah! the fishermen on our coast,
unfortunately, are too much attached to the English.”

Our conversation terminated, and we were taken back to our inn.
Distressed as we were, we immediately retired to rest our wearied limbs.
Nature was exhausted; and we sank into nature’s balm--“sweet
sleep,”--too afflicted and worn out to reflect, or to care for the
reflection that the dawn would see us in progress to gaol.


     Our entrance into the gaol of Boulogne--Tantalising sight of Old
     England’s flag and white cliffs--A gaoler’s supper and a
     conscientious bill--Another examination--The route to
     Verdun--Arras--The gaoler kind, and the commandant full of
     indulgence--Bapaume--The baker, and inquiries for our lost
     money--Cambray--Cateau-Cambresis and its horrible
     dungeon--Landrecies--Our awkwardness in chains, handcuffs, and
     fetters--My dislike to them--Avesnes--Information that we were to
     be shot--The dungeon of Avesnes--A dungeon companion who had killed
     and cut up both his parents--A night of horrors and lunacy--Hirson,
     a town without a gaol, but with a dungeon--A supper and its
     consequences--The discovery of our implements of escape--Maubert
     Fontaine--A new dungeon and a fellow-prisoner--Reciprocal
     services--A novel mode of hiding pistol-barrels--Chaining prisoners
     to a cart--Mezières--Arrival at Verdun--Separated from my
     companions--Reflections on being shot--A close
     examination--Questioned in relation to Buonaparte--Allowed to join
     my old associates--Another cross-examination--A recommittal to
     prison--Our fate determined--The dungeon of Bitche--The Rev.
     Lancelot C. Lee, a _détenu_--His generosity.

The next morning, the 19th Sept. 1807, at eight o’clock, our _gendarme_
escort entered the inn, and, soon placing us in a cart, conducted us to
Boulogne. We arrived at about two in the afternoon, and were
unceremoniously handed over to a regular gaoler, a Mons. Verjuis, who
gave us in custody to one of his most expert turnkeys. The fellow showed
us into our apartment. Shortly after, two small sheaves of straw were
sent us as substitutes for beds, and a bucket of water accompanied them,
as our sole refreshment. Tuthill, astonished at this supply, asked me
seriously what it could mean? I replied, that it was evidently to be our
food, and that they thought straw for Englishmen a good substitute for
bread!! However, complaint would only have subjected us to ridicule or
insult, and without a murmur we drank our water and reposed upon our
straw. We had passed many days when the straw would have been a luxury
to us, and many nights and days when we would have given a stream of
gold for the draught of water.

This day’s excursion had afforded us a view of that formidable flotilla
which had so frequently threatened to hurl destruction upon our little
island; but with what different emotions did we catch the view of the
white cliffs of Dover, and behold an English frigate and lugger
blockading the French port. The sight of our country, and of the
triumphant flag of our glorious profession--the navy of England,--filled
us with desires that were not to be realised, and with hopes in which it
was tantalising and vain to indulge. I was a little relieved by a
feeling of contempt at the dismantled and decaying flotilla, and by
reflecting that had France had the folly to build a thousand times as
many flat-bottomed boats as I then beheld, she never could have made any
impression on our happy country.

However, neither sentiment nor reflection can be a substitute for food,
and the keenness of our appetites soon taught us the absolute necessity
of becoming acquainted with our _good host_. We began to supplicate for
relief through the iron bars; and our experience of the French
character had taught us the good policy of accompanying each
supplication with an assurance that we would pay liberally for whatever
we might be supplied with. At length, this man of iron bars and gratings
thought proper to pay us a visit. He promised to afford us relief, and
we soon got supplied tolerably well with food, and had two mattresses
brought us--we still keeping our promise to pay whatever was required.
It appeared that this fellow was a great acquisition to Buonaparte’s
government: he had been originally a convict sentenced to perpetual
imprisonment in chains; he therefore resided in a gaol, and wore small
silver chains round his wrists and ankles, and thus literally conformed
to his sentence, whilst he was placed in a situation under government.

On Monday the 21st we were conducted to the captain of _gendarmes_ to
undergo another examination; and he behaved very like a gentleman. We
were interrogated separately. He said that our attempt to gain our
liberty was very laudable, and that he felt for our misfortunes. Our
march back was to commence the next morning. He exhorted us to have
fortitude and patience, and dwelt very much on the cruelty of not having
an exchange of prisoners between the two countries. We returned him many
thanks for his goodness, and were escorted back to our prison, where we
made every necessary arrangement within our power for the next day. This
was a task neither difficult nor long, for our luggage or apparel was
not calculated to cause us much embarrassment.

On Tuesday, 22nd Sept., we were called betimes by the guard, and in a
few minutes were once more _en route_. The day was excessively wet and
the roads heavy, which prevented the guards from chaining us, more
especially as we had a very long march to Montreuil, which was twelve
or thirteen leagues distant. About five in the afternoon we were placed
in the common gaol of Montreuil, which we found a tolerably comfortable
prison; but the gaoler and his wife imposed upon us in a shameful

Our route was now through Hesdin and St. Pol, to Arras. The gaoler here
behaved with kindness and civility to us, and (with the exception of
one) was the most humane man in that situation I ever knew. And in dire
necessity of his humanity were we all at this moment; but more
especially myself, for so completely knocked up was I from excessive
fatigue and exhaustion, by the length of this day’s journey in chains,
that I found my head quite dizzy, and had actually swooned and fallen
against the prison walls before the gaoler could conduct me to my cell.

The commandant was also extremely civil, and allowed us, at our own
request, a chaise, with an escort of two _gendarmes_ (whose names were
Potdevin and Pasdevie), to Cambray. Having passed through Bapaume, we
called at our old friend the baker’s, where Mr. Essel supposed he had
lost his money. He and his children were severally examined; but we
could not discover the smallest trace that might lead us to suppose he
had taken it: and I must confess I believed the baker to be innocent. At
Cambray we dismissed, or, rather, the Arras escort quitted us; and we
were conducted to Cateau-Cambresis, where we were put into a most
horrible dungeon under ground, nor could anything in our power have any
effect on the flint-hearted keeper of it. We fortunately remained but
twenty-four hours at this place; thence we were conducted to Landrecies,
where we were permitted to stop and get a breakfast. Our landlady here
shed tears at seeing us handcuffed in so cruel a manner; yet, in spite
of all remonstrances and entreaties, and notwithstanding the obvious
inutility of this caution or harshness, our guards would not unshackle a
single wrist during the whole time, and the people of the house were
literally obliged to feed us.

At about five o’clock on the 29th, we arrived at Avesnes, and were very
rudely thrust into the gaol, and placed amongst the worst and lowest
class of criminals that it contained. This, we were informed, was by the
special order of General Wirion, who, it appeared, had sent an express
to all stages on our route, desiring that we should be treated as
severely and as indignantly as possible. Our guard seemed to be by no
means lax in discipline, for they fulfilled their instructions both to
their spirit and letter. A report, moreover, was current at this place,
that we were English spies, about to be shot for having been hired to
inspect the naval armaments along the French coast. This idea certainly
did not procure us the sympathies of the populace, nor did it seem to
soften the tempers of our conductors; and all assurances to the contrary
on our part were rendered abortive by the fact of our being so heavily
manacled, shackled, and loaded with chains. The conclusions from these
symbols of guilt were that if we were not spies we were something even
worse. What were our disgust and horror when we found that we were
thrust into a horrible dungeon with a wretch that was condemned to
perpetual imprisonment for having murdered and mutilated both his father
and mother! I shuddered every time I beheld this monster, and could not
bear his gaze upon me. I was told that the wretch had cut both of his
parents into quarters, and had buried them in a pit. Never shall I
forget the joy we all felt when at daybreak we were taken from this
horrible society. I expressed my astonishment that crimes so heinous
should not receive the punishment of death; and then it was, and not
till then, that the solution was made clear to me--the unhappy man, upon
his trial, had been declared a lunatic. I reflected that, as a lunatic,
he ought not to be subject to so cruel a confinement. From all I had
seen of French gaols, I entertained a very low idea of the prison
discipline, economy, and management of France; but the horrors of that
night can never be effaced from my mind.

It was about five o’clock, on the 30th of September, that we were halted
at the town of Hirson. The town is without a gaol, but it possessed a
little damp, subterranean cell, or dungeon, just capable of containing
the four of us. We were thrust into this _cachot_, or dungeon, and, a
little straw being contemptuously thrown upon us, the heavy door was
closed, and we were left to the choice of meditation or slumber. We
preferred the latter, but vexation made us irritable; when luckily a
brigadier of the _gendarmerie_--who, with two _gendarmes_, constituted
the police of the village--showed his face at the little hole in the
door of the dungeon, and informed us that the gaoler’s wife would
procure us some sort of refreshment, provided we would pay her, and pay
her in advance. This we not only agreed to immediately, but we found our
hearts bounding at the intelligence, and we most humbly and gratefully
thanked this brigadier for his excessive goodness and condescension. We
were soon informed that there was a kind of repast prepared for us, and
that we should have permission to go out into the gaoler’s house during
the few minutes necessary to refresh ourselves. This intelligence threw
us into great confusion, as we had been unaccustomed to such an
indulgence, and, in consequence, had neglected to conceal in some secret
hole a number of small articles, such as files and gimlets, which we
fortunately had hitherto kept in our possession. The moment they were
about to open our door, one preferred keeping what tools he had about
him, another slipped his in amongst the straw, and in this perplexed
state the dungeon was opened and we were ordered out. At this instant I
flung from me, over a high garden wall, two small files which I had
concealed in my hand when the dungeon door was opened. I protest I
thought the things left in the straw were best secured, as the place was
excessively dark. We were now seated at table with some soup and
_bouilli_, in great consternation, surrounded by the _gendarmes_ and
gaoler. In a few minutes the latter procured a candle and lanthorn, and
informed the brigadier he was ready to attend him. He accordingly rose,
and they proceeded to the miserable abode we had just quitted. An
opinion of our feelings at that moment can only be formed by those
unfortunate people who have experienced similar sufferings and anxiety.
I can only say that our relish for the soup was not very great; we were
well assured that everything left in the straw would inevitably be
discovered, which most certainly would lead to a general search of our
persons. The brigadier’s generosity was now sufficiently accounted for:
he and his companion returned; and, as we expected, they had found every
single tool, together with the stock of a double-barrelled pistol--of
which I had given charge to Essel, keeping the barrels in my own
possession, and another of the same description, with its barrels also.
They made very diligent search for the barrels of Essel’s pistol-stock,
but without effect. We assured them that we threw the barrels away prior
to our quitting Verdun; and that we had taken the stock and lock to use
occasionally instead of a tinder-box, which we had no possibility of
providing. They began to search us now separately: a few things were
found upon my comrades; but, fortunately for me, they did not discover
upon my person my pistol, which was more complete than that which they
had found, nor the barrels belonging to Essel’s pistol-stock, nor, in
fact, anything whatever. Poor Ashworth was less fortunate, for out of
the seams of his greatcoat they took two files. They next cut open every
covered button, thinking one or all of them might contain some coin; but
in this, I have no doubt, they were most mortified and chagrined to be
mistaken. The brigadier could hardly convince himself that my
walking-stick, which I purchased after leaving Boulogne, did not conceal
a sword or dagger. He kept twisting it about and tugging at it, all in
vain, and yet so suspicious was he that he chose to keep it for the
night. We were reconducted to our den in a state of feeling which can
scarcely be conceived. In a few minutes we endeavoured to take what
repose we could.

Awaking about midnight, I began to deliberate upon the consequence of
having so dangerous a “tinder-box” about me, with all its necessary
materials, _i.e._ ammunition; and, having found what I thought was a
convenient place--a hole in the dungeon wall--I deposited the barrels of
Essel’s pistol therein, keeping about me still my own complete. The
night went off without further disturbance.

At daylight we were again put _en route_--chained, handcuffed, and
closely, even maliciously, watched. The day was very rainy, the roads
very bad and heavy; our march was long and fatiguing; and I cannot say
that our minds were in the best possible state to cheer us through our

It was on the 1st of October, about six in the evening, that we arrived
at Maubert Fontaine. Never were poor prisoners in a more miserable
plight. We were saturated with rain, and covered with mud. We found that
a new dungeon had been built in this village, and into it we were rudely
thrust. What the old dungeon might have been, I do not know, but our
_domicile_ proved to me that the French could not have made much
progress in the art of constructing dungeons. It was a wretched place. A
boy, of about ten years old, had been confined in it for six or seven
days; he belonged to the neighbouring town of Lille, and was imprisoned
for having strolled from home without a passport. The poor little fellow
informed us that his food had been nothing but black bread and water;
and he stated, not much to my satisfaction, that our arrival had been
expected for two or three days, and that we were to be searched most
strictly. This boy was of the greatest service to me, and, with his
assistance, I contrived to conceal my double-barrelled pistol, or, as I
termed it, my tinder-box. I unscrewed the barrels, and, thrusting them
into the fingers of my gloves, I kept the glove on, with the fingers
bent towards the wrist, so that the pistol-barrels were mistaken for my
fingers straight out. The boy helped me to conceal the stock, just as
the guard entered to search us. We had nothing else about us now, except
our money, which had hitherto been respected, and a small gold watch
which I wore, and which they fortunately did not discover. I purchased
this watch at Verdun, and wear it even to the present day. We were
searched with great strictness and severity; and such were the feelings
against us that the guard deprived us of all our money, and, upon our
remonstrating, they replied that they would pay out of it all our
expenses to Verdun, and account for the balance to General Wirion, at
that depot. The reader may easily imagine with what sort of good faith
the account was kept, and the amount that remained to be paid to the
General. However, this night the guard provided for us, out of our
money, what they called a supper; and they procured for us some straw
and blankets, which were our only beds. The poor French boy felt himself
perfectly happy in having, as he termed it, “something good” to eat. We
gave the poor little fellow an ample share of everything that was
brought to us; and if he felt the luxury of the unexpected repast, we
likewise felt “the greater luxury of doing good.” The guards gaped and
stared at the unusual scene; and, after muttering their _parbleus_ and
_sacrés_, they shrugged up their shoulders and expressed their
astonishment at our generosity. I only wished that generosity was
contagious, and that our rapacious, stone-hearted temporary keepers
might imbibe our feelings.

The guard visited us every hour during the night; notwithstanding which,
I contrived to find an opportunity of getting rid of all the materials
of my dangerous “tinder-box,” excepting the barrels.

At daybreak, 2nd October, we were handcuffed and chained to a cart, the
roads having become too heavy to admit of our proceeding on foot; and
here I got rid of the barrels, by wrapping a little straw round each
and dropping them through the cart in the mud.

In the evening we arrived at Mezières gaol, and were put into the yard,
after being strictly searched; nor could we procure even a dungeon until
we had agreed to pay a most exorbitant price which the gaoler charged
for some refreshments that he had procured for us. He very laconically
observed, “I know the _gendarmes_ have plenty of money which they took
from you. You may as well let me have part, as let _them_ have all. You
will not stand in need of any in a few days;” thus intimating that we
were to be shot as spies, which was the general opinion everywhere.

Our treatment was pretty nearly the same throughout all the way to
Verdun, where we arrived at the latter end of October. I was then
separated from my companions, being considered as the _chef du complot_,
and was thrown into a miserable dungeon, in which was another prisoner,
supposed to have been a spy, and who expected to be brought to trial in
a few days, and with no great confidence of being tried with a
superfluous regard to justice or mercy. The universal impression that we
were to be shot, with which our ears had been dinned at every
resting-place upon the road, seemed confirmed by the companion with whom
they placed me in this dungeon. I was certain that if only one of the
party was to suffer death, that victim would be myself--not only because
it is the custom in France to infer that the oldest of a party or gang
is the ringleader, or _chef du complot_, but my conscience told me that
I had really been the chief instigator to all that we had done. I made
my mind up to bear the execution with a fortitude and dignity that
should not disgrace the naval service or national character of my
country; I trusted in God that my death would satiate French vengeance,
and that my brave companions would be allowed to escape; and finally, in
the perfect resignation which I felt to my approaching fate, I was
consoled by my conscience telling me that I had committed no crime that
merited so sanguinary and ignominious a punishment. I laid my hand upon
my heart, and felt that I had done nothing to tarnish the honour of a
naval officer and a gentleman.

At daybreak a guard came to conduct me to the place of examination. Here
I found Lieutenant Demangeoit, of the _gendarmerie_, a scrivener, and
Mr. Galliers, interpreter. This Lieutenant Demangeoit was afterwards
dismissed from the Emperor’s service. My examination continued two or
three hours; every question and answer was noted down, and as much form
and solemnity as possible were given to the proceedings. I was minutely
cross-examined with respect to the pistol-stock, and was sifted over and
over again, with both earnestness and cunning, as to where I had been on
the days Buonaparte had passed through Verdun. I was interrogated as to
what company I had been in, with whom I had breakfasted; and numberless
other questions were put to me, without my being able to form the
slightest idea of what they suspected or at what object they were
aiming. However, it was clear that I was suspected of some offence in
relation to the Emperor, and it was certain that there was a
determination, if possible, to implicate me in it. Our companion Essel
had on that morning given a public breakfast to several of his friends
at his lodgings, which happened to be situated immediately in the
thoroughfare, or most public part of the town, _La Place St. Croix_, and
close to the windows of which Napoleon and suite must of necessity have
passed. Of this circumstance I was ignorant, consequently had no
invitation, which at this moment, for me, proved a fortunate event, and
evidently explained the cause of this strict and scrutinising

M. le Lieutenant Demangeoit appeared also particularly anxious to
ascertain whether my pistols had been purchased previous or subsequent
to the breakfast on the day of Buonaparte passing through Verdun. This
was evidently done with the intention of, if possible, fixing upon
us--but more especially upon me, to whom the articles in question
belonged--the atrocious and abominable stigma of a conspiracy and
premeditated design to assassinate their Emperor: for whom, however
formidable my dislike might have been to the _chief_ of the avowed foes
of my country, I entertained not the slightest feeling of personal
vindictive animosity. They very much wanted to be informed by whom we
had been supplied with ropes, and who had assisted us in descending the
ramparts. I replied, “That, by degrees, we had procured sufficient rope
for the purpose of horse-collars, and of course _twice_ the length that
would have been necessary had we had a friend to assist us in descending
by holding it fast; but we had to place the bight over a rock which I
knew stood near the place, and then went down by the double part; after
which we hauled it to us, cut it to pieces, and threw it into the

I went through all this raking and cross-fire of examination with
patience and humility; but, the ordeal being over, I began to
remonstrate at the unnecessary cruelty of being separated from my
companions. At last it was decided that I should be conducted to their
prison, _La Tour d’Angoulême_, they having been removed from it to the
place of examination. We were not allowed to see each other until the
whole examination was over; but, in passing the guard-room in which they
were locked up, I heard their voices, and vociferated to them, “Mind you
stick to the old text:” a hint they very well understood. This
exasperated the guard, who insisted upon knowing what I had said; but I
simply replied, “That I had only said that I was very hungry and wanted
my breakfast:” with which he seemed perfectly satisfied. I need not
describe the joy we all felt upon being once more together.

We amused ourselves the whole night in talking over the different
questions that had been put to each of us; for it had long been our
practice to suggest every possible question to which we might be
probably exposed, in the event of our being captured, and to agree upon
the answers we should make, in order that neither equivocation nor
inconsistencies might undo us. The gaoler (Monsieur Percival) supplied
us, out of our own funds, with the nourishment that was permitted by the
laws of prison discipline. Fire and candle were prohibited.

Some days had elapsed, when we were again conducted to be examined
separately. I was the first called into court. The lieutenant
(Demangeoit) informed me that there had been certain questions
transmitted from the minister at Paris to be put to me, and to which it
would be to my interest to give candid answers. In the first place, he
was certain that we never could have kept a direct course through the
long and difficult route from Verdun to Étaples without guides,
especially as it appeared that we had had neither chart nor compass. We
had luckily destroyed the compass, and no chart had been found upon us,
with the exception of the maps of the departments at Étaples, so I
coolly replied, “That English sailors could always steer with sufficient
correctness by the stars, and that when those celestial objects were
visible they were never at a loss.”

When this question was disposed of, the court wished to be informed,
“Whether I knew anything of the coast of France, and whether I had ever
been stationed off it?” It struck me that the shipwreck of the _Hussar_
was a pretty clear proof that there was one part of the coast, at least,
of which it would appear we had but an imperfect knowledge; but, smiling
at the question, I replied, “That every naval officer of England was by
far better acquainted with the French coast than even with his own.” I
mollified this allusion to our blockading every port of France, and
triumphantly sailing round her coasts, by adding, “That we could hardly
go up and down Channel without acquiring a knowledge of the northern
coast of France;” and at length I left no doubt on their minds with
respect to our local knowledge of it. The questions were the same to all
the rest, and we were then again reconducted to our prison.

In a week we were ordered to prepare ourselves for a march to the
fortress of Bitche, in Lorraine, a wretched place, well known to many of
our unhappy countrymen; a place in the dreadful caverns of which many a
valuable British subject had terminated his existence in all the agony
that illness, despondency, and ill-usage could create. This was my
transition from the expected fate of being shot. And here, in some
wretched _souterrain_, we were to remain during the war; nay, they even
asserted that it was Buonaparte’s own decree. Death was preferable to
such a sentence; but we were resolved to make another effort at all
risks, and, if possible, to regain our liberty. Cash alone was wanting.
I, however, procured a small supply through the interposition of a
worthy countryman, notwithstanding the strict guard that was kept over
us. My Samaritan, or friend in need, was the Rev. C. Launcelot Lee (a
_détenu_), Fellow of New College, Oxford, from whom I had at all times
received great kindness. He contrived now to assist me in my extreme
distress, by giving the money to Mr. Galliers, another worthy
Englishman, who had acted as our interpreter. The object was effected
dexterously; for Mr. Galliers, in taking leave, at the moment of our
setting out for Bitche, when surrounded by the _gendarmes_, cordially
gave me his hand to shake, and pressed the precious treasure into mine.
I was obliged to keep this act of generosity a profound secret; for, had
it been discovered, it would have been of serious consequences to my two


     Our departure from Verdun for Bitche--Mars-la-Tour, Metz, and
     Sarrelouis--I receive a very useful present from Mr.
     Brown--Sarreguemines--A last chance--A mounted guard--Thoughts of
     an escape--Calculations upon a chase in a wood between
     horse-soldiers and prisoners on foot--Attempt resolved upon--Signal
     given--Flight from the prison caravan to the wood--French
     pursuit--A prisoner recaptured--My escape from the wood into
     another--My companions, I fear, less fortunate--My concealment--A
     swampy bed, and a stormy sky, with a torrent of rain, for a
     canopy--A prospective flight of nearly 800 miles--The misery of a
     fruitless search for lost companions--Feeding on haws, and herding
     with quadrupeds and vermin--A hut discovered--Hunger compels me to
     enter--A compromise, a bribe, female advocacy, and an escape--On
     the road to the Rhine--A preparation to sell life dearly--A narrow
     escape--Living on cabbage-stalks and raw turnips--Bad feet and
     worse health--A lonely house near a wood--Strong temptations to
     enter--A brutal host, extreme danger, and a narrow escape--Bad
     specimens of human nature.

On the morning of our departure we were joined by eight culprits at
twilight, and were placed in a large waggon, under a very strong escort
of _gendarmerie_, with a brigadier to command it. We were confined the
first night in a most miserable dungeon, in a village called
Mars-la-Tour. It was so very small, and there were so many of us, that
we could scarcely breathe. Our allowance of straw, _a pound and a half
each_, was given us to lie on: this straw was so short that it had
exactly the appearance of so many bundles of toothpicks. The following
night we were lodged in Metz gaol. We remained here several days. At
last an order came for half our number to proceed towards our
destination: two others, with us four, were accordingly commanded to get
ready. We were now in the hope of having another chance of getting out
of the clutches of our keepers, but were much mistaken; our guard
watched us closely, and we were so well secured with handcuffs and with
chains that it was impossible to attempt it. We were therefore safely
lodged in Sarrelouis gaol. This was a depot for captured seamen, and one
of punishment for officers who might transgress prison rules; but it was
many degrees superior to Bitche. Several of our countrymen obtained
permission to see us; and from one (Mr. Brown, master of H.M. gun-brig
_Mallard_, lately wrecked on the coast) I received a small map of
Germany, torn out of an old book of geography, which I carefully
stitched in the lining of my waistcoat. We were now joined by those left
in Metz prison, and were soon again on the march towards our destined
habitation. The same precautions were taken for securing us, and but
little or no hopes were left of our escaping. We arrived at
Sarreguemines, only six or seven leagues from Bitche, and were secured,
as usual, in the gaol. The next day, at about four in the afternoon, we
expected to arrive at our horrible abode. In the morning our guards came
with a large waggon, in which we were placed, and, to my great
astonishment and delight, we were not chained. I considered this as a
most wonderful circumstance, and as a favourable opportunity of escape
that ought to be embraced, particularly as there could be no hopes of
any other chance; indeed, it appeared an interposition of Divine
Providence in our favour. I communicated my intentions to my companions;
and, after we had got out of the town, we descended from our waggon,
observing to the guards that we preferred walking a little. Mr. Essel
remained in the waggon. Messrs. Ashworth and Tuthill, and Baker, of the
merchant service, with myself, were walking ahead of the waggon. We had
not got more than two or three miles when I discovered a wood at about
one hundred and fifty yards from the road: our guards were about fifty
yards behind us, and were on horseback. In so unequal a chase, a chase
between man and horse, we might be overtaken in our run to the wood; but
if we could once reach that point, we were safe, for, although there
were no leaves on the trees, we were certain that our mounted guards
could not pursue us without a great deal of difficulty, owing to the
branches and underwood; and, should they dismount, accoutred as they
were, and with their heavy boots, we knew that we could outrun them with
the greatest ease.

At length the most interesting and anxious moment arrived. We were on
the spot where the attempt could be made better than at any other. I
gave my friends the signal--a loud cheer. Away we ran: the startled
guards dug their spurs into their horses, and galloped at our heels with
the utmost speed. The ground was very heavy, a ploughed field being the
space between the road and wood. Poor Baker fell, and was instantly
seized and conducted back to the waggon with a sabre over him, and a
pistol ready to do its office, should he attempt again to escape. We
were more fortunate. We got into the wood, dodging the _gendarmes_
through brier, brake, and

[Illustration: _Escape of the Author and his Companions._

London. Edward Arnold. 1902.]

entanglement. I and my companions crossed each other several times, out
of breath, and I could barely cry to them to keep behind trees and avoid
pistol-shots; for the guards were leaping, plunging, and riding in all
directions, roaring out, in the greatest rage, the words, “_Arrétez,
coquins!_” etc. These not very agreeable epithets, in hoarse French,
assailed our ears from every point. At length my pursuers gave up the
chase of me to follow my companions; and, fortunately, finding a good
tree between me and the foe, I sat down to catch my breath and consider
what I should do. The moment I lost sight of the _gendarmes_, I bounded
towards the side of the wood opposite to the direction they had taken,
and I perceived an extensive plain, terminating in one direction in a
wood, which seemed not much more than a mile off. Without any more
deliberation I darted into the plain; its extent was about a mile; and
by the time I had reached the middle I was so out of breath that I was
obliged to stop a few minutes, and I therefore fell flat on my face,
with my mouth open, and close to the earth; and the relief was
astonishing. I lay close to the ground, that I might not be discovered.
However, another run brought me to the wood. Having thus far so
providentially escaped, I began to consider what steps I had better take
next; and, after resting a few minutes again to recover my exhausted
strength, I determined on quitting this wood, and at the extremity
opposite to that at which I calculated my pursuers might be looking out
for me, as I thought they would naturally take that direction, when a
diligent search had convinced them that I was not in the wood into which
we had first entered. Besides, I saw that the first wood was now
entirely surrounded by the peasantry; for, it being Sunday, all had
been idle, and men, women, and children caught the alarm, and hurried
like wolves to the chase. The French Government at this time gave a
reward of fifty livres, or £2. 1s. 8d., to any person who should
recapture a prisoner of war that had escaped from prison or from an
escort, and this brought out such a prodigious concourse of eager
people, as to leave me but very little hope of remaining in safety in
any place where it could be even suspected that a man might be

On quitting this wood I conjectured that I was about three or four miles
from the road from which I had at first escaped. Immense plains, stubble
ground, meadows, fields fallow and ploughed, presented themselves to my
view, with the river Sarre close to the southward of me, but extremely
rapid, and no part of it fordable. My case appeared desperate; and, to
avoid suspicion, I thought the best method would be to walk deliberately
across those plains, taking a different direction from that of every
other person in them, but without appearing to avoid any. I put a
night-cap on, which I had in my pocket, instead of the beaver-cap I
usually wore--the night-cap being a common dress with the peasantry of
Lorraine. I passed several of them at very short distances, stopping
frequently, and seeming to walk very carelessly. At length I found
myself in a small vale, through which ran two small rivulets, forming a
little kind of island, that was covered with one hawthorn-bush, briers,
etc., sufficiently large to conceal one man. This I considered admirably
well calculated for a hiding-place; for, as it was so excessively small
and wet, I was of opinion nobody would even think of searching it. I
entered it, and was so completely covered as to be scarcely able to
discern the part through which I had first penetrated. I found it in one
sense very uncomfortable--I mean with respect to the mud, wet, and dirt
that I was obliged to wallow in; but otherwise it was a perfect paradise
to me; and all I regretted was not having my poor comrades somewhere
near me, although I comforted myself in feeling assured that they must
all have escaped, even those who did not run in the beginning, as they
were left with only the waggoner, the guards having gone in pursuit of
us. I was, indeed, some time afterwards informed that not one of the
remaining eight ever attempted to quit the waggoner, but were quietly
conducted to Bitche, where, as the reader will find, I was again
compelled to rejoin them.[12]

This was Sunday, 15th November 1807, and I lay cold and quietly enough
in my wet and muddy bed, anxiously wishing night to arrive, and dispel
part of my apprehensions. I was obliged frequently to shift from one
side to the other, the cold and moisture becoming extremely severe and
distressing. In a short time I was wet through in every part of my body,
and found the cold intense, for when I lay down in the mud I was in a
profuse state of perspiration. It did not relieve my miseries to hear
either the alarm-bells ringing in the adjacent villages, or the
whistling, howling, and shouting of the peasantry: what was still worse,
I was frequently startled by voices close to me.

But now the much-desired moment of darkness drew near: the sun was
descending; but, to my great discomfiture and mortification, with every
appearance of bad weather. It already began to rain very hard, which
obscured the moon, then about eight or nine days old. Reflecting on my
present state, I found it truly pitiable. I had only the small old map I
have already mentioned, to direct my course; and I was without compass,
guide, clothes, meat, drink, or companion, and the dreary month of
November was setting in with more than its usual inclemency. The nearest
friendly town was Salzburg, in Austria, and that was between seven and
eight hundred miles distant. This was enough to chill the ardour and
paralyse the exertions of the most dauntless; nevertheless, my having
escaped from the grasp of tyrants, and become my own master, more than
compensated, in my estimation, for a thousand hardships, sufferings, and

About half-past seven I ventured out, shook, cleaned, and washed the mud
off my clothes as well as I could, and recommending myself to a merciful
Creator, by whose bountiful clemency I had been this day so miraculously
protected, I proceeded with great caution towards the wood in which I
had separated from my companions, for I supposed that they would keep in
it, or perhaps return there to meet me. It rained very hard, and
everything was profoundly silent. I traversed the woods for three or
four miles in different directions; but all to no purpose. Now and then
I ventured to whistle, which was the signal formerly established amongst
us, but all without success. I remained alone, dispirited, hungry, cold,
fatigued, and drenched with rain. The risk was too great to venture on
the high-road; and yet I was so nearly perishing with cold and wet that
it was impossible to remain in my place of concealment. I therefore kept
running and walking onward during the night, frequently impeded by the
course of the Sarre, which confused me greatly. At length, being very
much fatigued, and finding a convenient wood, though destitute of
leaves, I got into it, and concealed myself in a tolerably good part, a
little before daylight. I never recollect feeling or suffering so much
from cold: it had rained incessantly all this day. The whole of this day
(the 16th) I was surrounded by moles, rats, and other small animals
somewhat like squirrels; the rats often approached so near as to lick my
shoes. Their tricks and advances rather amused me, and abated in some
measure the lowness and disquietude of my mind. At the close of the
evening a swineherd passed by, conducting his hogs near my hiding-place.
I saw him very distinctly. One of the pigs took flight exactly towards
me: he sent his dog in pursuit of it; which, providentially, turned it
back, otherwise it would have absolutely run over me.

About eight o’clock I quitted my retreat. The night was again very bad.
It kept blowing and raining very hard, and I was at a loss to know what
direction to take; for never did darker and thicker clouds obscure the
light of heaven. About nine o’clock I discovered a small hut, and I
imagined that I had an opportunity of endeavouring to procure a morsel
of food of some kind. I reconnoitred it with a trembling earnestness,
and at last most cautiously approached the door. The struggle between my
eager desire to procure some sustenance, without which I must perish,
and the dread of being arrested in the attempt, may be conceived, but
cannot be described. After deliberating some length of time, hunger
preponderated over even the dread of my being again led to my dungeon;
and, with a trembling hand, I at length knocked at the door. It was
opened by a woman. I humbly asked for some bread in German, which is the
language spoken by the peasantry of Lorraine. She made signs for me to
enter, which I did.

There were three men and another woman in the house. An elderly man, who
was the only one of the party that could speak French, instantly told
me, “He was certain that I was one of the English prisoners who had
escaped from the guard on the preceding day.” He added, “That one of the
guard had just quitted the hut: he had been in search of the fugitives
all day, and had called on his way home to give the present company
information.” I did not dispute who or what I was. The fellow proceeded
to dwell on the reward of _fifty livres_ which the Government gave for
arresting a prisoner of war. “_Fifty livres_,” he added, “was an object
to poor people like them.” I perfectly understood his drift, and merely
observed, “That, although the Government promised the reward, they were
not certain when it might be paid.” I afterwards appealed to his honour
and feelings, and asked him, “What honest man, for so paltry a
recompense or amount, would prevent a poor prisoner of war, who had been
guilty of no crime whatever, from revisiting his wife, and everything
that was dear to him, after a close imprisonment for four or five
years?” He explained all that I had said to the others; and I found that
the women took my views of the subject, and were advocates for me. Upon
this, I addressed the old man again, and said, “As you appear to me to
be very worthy, honest people, accept of this trifle amongst you;” and I
gave him a _louis d’or_. I next presented the women with six livres, as
a mark of my respect for them, and they received the money very
graciously. I saw that matters now bore, or were beginning to bear, a
favourable aspect, and I accordingly took the first favourable
opportunity to assure them how very sorry I was that I had not more
money to give them. I next requested that they would show me the nearest
way to Bitche, as I had friends there who would supply me with a little
cash to enable me to proceed on my long journey. After a long discussion
in German, during which I perfectly discovered their uneasiness at not
having received more than thirty livres, the old man observed, “As there
is but one of them, it is of no great consequence; but if they all were
here, it would have been well worth while.” I could not help thinking to
myself that if we had all been present we should have been such an
over-match for them as to prevent their making the attempt, and I might
have kept my money in my pocket. I again repeated my wish to be directed
towards Bitche. I knew that there was a direct road from Bitche to the
Rhine, and this was my reason for wishing to go that way. The women
again pleaded in my favour, and at length the two young men got up and
offered their services. I accepted the offer, and they equipped
themselves, and announced that they were ready. I took a most joyful
leave of the women and old man, and followed my guides, inexpressibly
rejoiced at getting out of this danger; though I did not consider myself
perfectly safe whilst I remained with these men.

My suspicions and alarm grew stronger and stronger; for they conducted
me through very narrow, intricate ways, through deserted places, and
over heaths and commons; and they generally kept behind me; while I
observed they were always whispering together. I had, at the best, no
great opinion of them; and these circumstances were so suspicious that I
feigned occasion to remain behind a little while; and this time I
occupied in concealing my watch, money, and the small map, all of which
had hitherto been in a pocket of my pantaloons. This being done, I
advanced, assumed a light and satisfied air, but took good care not
again to take the lead of them. About midnight the men left me, on a
pathway to the road to Bitche, and took their leave. I felt much pleased
at so happy a deliverance, and continued in that direction until about
three o’clock; when, supposing myself near enough to that unhappy
mansion (Bitche), I directed my course (as I thought) towards the Rhine.
Some time before daylight it ceased raining; the stars showed
themselves, and I had the mortification of discovering that I had been
going diametrically opposite to my proper course.

In this unhappy dilemma I kept advancing, being confident that I had
passed no secure retreat. At length, some time after daylight, I
discovered a very thin wood on the side of a hill, which I immediately
betook myself to, and there I remained until night. Here I managed to
get a dry shave. My gold watch, hung upon a bush, was my only
looking-glass; but the razor was a tolerably _good one_. There was a
drizzling rain the whole of the day, and the cold was extreme.

At night, about the usual time, I commenced my journey, and took the
direction back, going over the ground which I had followed the preceding
morning; and I confess, notwithstanding my disappointment, I felt some
consolation in knowing I was at length in the right track. During the
whole of this night, my escapes from being dashed to pieces by repeated
falls down precipices, which the darkness concealed, were quite
incredible. About eleven I felt very much harassed, from crossing
fields, morasses, gullies, and ditches; and happening to hit the
high-road, I resolved to follow it for some time, especially as I
thought it my direct way, but could not be certain, as the moon and
stars were still obscured. I supposed it was too late for travellers to
interrupt me. However, after quitting a wood on the side of the road,
whence I had to crawl up a sort of gravel-pit to get on it, imagine my
astonishment!--I had no sooner stepped on the road than I was
challenged--“_Qui vive?_” (“Who goes there!”) in an audible voice, by a
_gendarme_ on horseback. I made but one jump down the gravel-pit, and
crawled thence back into the wood; where I remained for some time to
gather strength, being sadly exhausted. I then proceeded along the wood,
without having any idea where I was going, the night still very dark,
wet, and inclement. I fortunately fell in with a cabbage-garden, close
to a cottage near the wood, and ate plentifully, and I stowed a good
supply in my pockets for the ensuing day. Afterwards I re-entered the
wood, in which I remained all day. After dark I recommenced my journey.
This was the most severe night, if possible, I had yet experienced: the
roads, pathways, and fields were deep and heavy from the constant rains;
rivulets had become dangerous rivers, and I had to wade through several.
I had an opportunity again this night of feasting upon cabbage-stalks,
leaves, and turnips, and filled my pockets plentifully.

My feet now began to blister and to get very sore; and I was likewise
becoming emaciated and very weak--it being my fifth day of living upon
cabbage leaves, stalks, and raw turnips. In my first attempt at flight
our food used to be occasionally nuts, apples, and grapes; now turnips
and cabbages were my only resource.

About half-past two in the morning I perceived a small lonely house on
the side of the wood. My necessities induced me to imagine that I might
approach it without danger, and endeavour to procure some refreshment. I
saw a light in the window, got close to the door, peeped through the
keyhole and window alternately, and at last saw a woman spinning by a
rousing fire. The effect was electrical. What could be more thrilling to
a man in my deplorable state than to behold the cleanly hearth, the
blazing fire, and happy industry, amidst the comforts and simple
ornaments of the cottage? Oh, how anxiously did I wish to be seated by
that brilliant fire! The physical wants of drooping nature prevailed,
and seizing the knocker, my astonished ears heard its sound. The door
was opened by a man, who surveyed me from top to toe. I was covered all
over with mud, nor was there a thread about me that was not saturated
with rain. He could clearly perceive from my miserable appearance and
woeful aspect that I had been for a long time secluded from my
fellow-creatures, and had been doomed to associate, or rather herd, with
the animals that inhabit the caves and forests. Whilst the fellow
remained with his eyes riveted upon me, I assured him in French that I
was thirsty, and asked him if he would have the kindness to give me
something to drink. He could not speak French, but he made me understand
that he had nothing whatever to give me. I discovered a pail of water,
and pointing to it with a supplicating gesture, the churl brought me a
ladleful of it. I then took the liberty of sitting down by the fire,
though the inhospitable boor or wife never asked me. I as little liked
the appearance of the place as I did that of its brutal owner; and as it
presented to my view not a single thing, except the fire, that could be
of the slightest service to me, I resolved to take my departure. I asked
him the road to Strasbourg, and the reply was that it was close by. I
was about to quit the fireside, when a tailor arrived to work for the
family. He also began to survey me closely, and having examined me from
head to foot, I heard him whisper to the man of the house, and clearly
distinguished the words _Engländer_ and _Bitche_. In fact, the
uncharitable varlet had revealed the truth, that I was an Englishman
escaping from Bitche. He then addressed me, and asked if I were a person
authorised to travel?--whether I had a passport?--with several other
questions of the same tendency.

Exhausted as I was, I saw that boldness in this case was my only
buckler; so turning fiercely upon him, I replied that he must be a very
impudent fellow to take the liberty of asking such questions,--that I
should not condescend to answer an inquisitive gossiping rascal of his
description; and I wished to know by what authority he could presume to
interrogate me in so unhandsome a manner. The fellow pretended to smile;
but he had not expected a retort so vigorous, as I saw evidently that he
was disconcerted, if not frightened. I next observed to the landlord
that the extreme inclemency of the weather alone had occasioned my
stopping at his house, particularly as I had seen neither town, village,
nor public-house contiguous to it. I added that as there were no hopes
of the weather clearing up, I should continue my road to Strasbourg,
which the fellow assured me was twelve leagues off, whilst Bitche was
only three. At this information I was distressed and mortified to find
what little progress I had made in so many days, or rather nights. The
whole party sat down to breakfast without asking the weather-beaten,
way-bewildered stranger to partake of their meal; so he, of course, took
his leave of these selfish and unfeeling specimens of human nature; and
exchanging the blazing fire for the unpitying elements, he pursued his
solitary journey, disgusted that aught so base as what he had witnessed
could be found under the human form.


     An inclement season--A retreat in a cavern--Somnambulism--The
     discovery of a shepherd’s hut--A traveller put out of a wrong
     road--Swimming in a winter’s night--Passing through a mill--A
     suspicious traveller may be an honest man--A Lorraine cottage seen
     through a fog--Dangers from over-kind people--Repugnance to be
     introduced to a mayor or any other good society--Concealment in a
     hollow willow--An honest fellow-traveller of fugitive
     reminiscences--An ingenious fiction--A perspective of Strasbourg.

The inauspicious month of November 1807 seemed to take a malignant
cognisance of my enterprises, and to visit me with more than its usual
severities. To prevent suspicion, I walked boldly on the road. It rained
excessively heavy, and I was sure that nobody who had any possibility of
remaining under cover would be in the way to interrupt me. After
advancing a short distance, on turning back I observed my _friend_ the
tailor, with all the rest, watching which way I went. I therefore
continued the road until I lost sight of the house, and proceeded,
hungry and wet, but tolerably well pleased at getting so well off. I now
discovered a high mountain with rocks and pines, contiguous to the road;
and I imagined I might find a more hospitable retreat in some cavern
amongst those rocks than in the house which my fellow-creatures
occupied. Not wishing to remain exposed any longer on the highway, I
scrambled up, and reached the summit. There I found an excellent dry
cavern under an immense rock. I crept into it and shortly fell into a
profound sleep; in which state I remained until I was disturbed by the
grunting of wild hogs that came to banish the unfortunate and forlorn
usurper who had so illegally taken possession of their habitation. I
found it quite dusk, and about the time I should recommence my journey.
I descended on the Strasbourg road, and kept running with little
intermission the whole of the night, notwithstanding the excruciating
pain I felt from my blistered feet.

About midnight, having halted to listen if there were any noise or
footsteps to be heard on the road, I plainly discovered, by the cracking
of whips, that a coach or waggon was advancing. I therefore retired a
few steps from the roadside and lay close down. It passed, and, as far
as I dared to peep at it, appeared to be a diligence, or a very heavy
travelling coach. I then resumed my route; kept running on, and passed
several villages, until a little before daylight, conjecturing that I
could not be far from the Rhine. I secured my lodging in a wood for the
ensuing day.

Looking about for the best shelter and accommodation, I perceived a
cavern under a rock far above me. It was apparently formed by the hand
of nature and time; and the rock, from its stupendous summit, displayed
an immense precipice, well calculated to inspire the feelings of awe and
admiration which are derived from the view of beautiful and sublime
scenery. But I was in no mood to contemplate scenery, or to enjoy either
beauty or sublimity. My thoughts were all absorbed in procuring shelter
from bitter cold, from piercing winds and drenching rain, and, from
what was worse than all these, the hostile hand of unfeeling man.

I determined, if possible, to scale this alarming height. It was still
dark, and this added to my perils and difficulties. In this exertion I
climbed on my knees, clinging to roots, clumps of dwarf trees, or to
tufts of the thick, coarse herbage; and if a single hold had given way,
I must have been dashed to pieces. Panting, and nearly exhausted, I at
last reached the top; and recovering my breath, I refreshed myself with
the few cabbage stumps which I had procured in passing the villages; and
entering the cavern, I threw myself on the ground, and instantly fell
into what may be almost called a stupor rather than a sleep.

My spirits were extremely agitated during the whole of the time I was in
this lurking-place. I awoke frequently, talking quite loud, and naming
the gentlemen that had been my former companions, holding conversation
with them as if they were actually present. Some time after I had
experienced a short and disturbed repose, I started up all of a sudden,
and desired my companions to rise and renew their journey; when, on
recovering from my delirium, and looking round, to my inexpressible
amazement I discovered than I was actually at the bottom of the
precipice, and that it was quite daylight. This precipice was very
steep, and, I repeat it, alarmingly dangerous, even to a man with all
his senses collected, and in the open day; and how I came again to the
bottom of it alive, I am utterly unable to explain. After collecting my
scattered ideas, which was no easy task, I hastened into the wood again,
for it rained very heavily, and prostrated myself in the most humble,
devout, and, I trust, sincere manner, before the great Disposer of all
events, offering up my most earnest and heartfelt thanks for the great
mercies and protection so bountifully bestowed upon me on this most
marvellous occasion. During this day I crossed several mountains covered
with trees, and at length found a very comfortable cave, full of nice
dry leaves, on the declivity of a hill. From the continued chain of
lofty, wild, and barren mountains that surrounded me, I had very serious
apprehensions that this might be the lair of wolves or of some wild
beasts; but I entered it, and found it lofty enough to sit upright in. I
took off my coat, squeezed out the water, and, after refreshing myself
with my usual fare, I lay down on the earth, and covering myself with
leaves, and my coat over all, I went to sleep.

About dusk I was awakened by the chattering of a jay at the mouth of the
cavern. The image of this bird is now fresh in my recollection, and will
remain so as long as I live. I crawled out of this, which proved to me
so safe a retreat, shook myself, and put on my wet coat. It had every
appearance of a fine night, with an inclination to frost. I consoled
myself with the calculation that I could not be more than three leagues
from Strasbourg. After descending the mountain, I discovered a peasant’s
hut in the vale; and, let the danger be what it might, I determined at
all hazards to ascertain at this place what was really my distance from
the Rhine. I accordingly entered, and found a young man, woman, and
child sitting round a fire. Unfortunately they could speak nothing but
_patois_ German, and I was about to retreat, vexed in the extreme that
we were unintelligible to each other; when, just as I was leaving the
hut, an old man met me at the door. He stared at me with his eyes full
of wonder, and as soon as he recovered his self-possession he asked me
if I were a Frenchman. “Yes,” I replied; “and I have missed my way in
crossing the mountains; and I will be obliged to you if you will put me
_en route_ to Strasbourg.” The fellow was kind of heart and civil of
manners. He put me on the right road, and gave me the names of all the
villages I should have to pass through; but my spirits sank within me
when he concluded by saying that I was only twelve leagues from
Strasbourg. “Twelve leagues!” I exclaimed, with dismay; but I took my
leave of this old man, and proceeded, heavy of heart, on my apparently
interminable journey. I could not account for this great distance,
except on the ground of my having been directed wrong by the former
inhospitable wretches that had driven me from their fireside.

My humble hosts on this occasion had nothing to give me to eat, and they
really appeared sorry for it; but before my departure they offered me
some brandy and water, for which I was grateful, got change for a
Napoleon, and paid them liberally.

At this time my feet were so very much swollen and very sore that I
could not wear my shoes; but I kept my stockings on until the foot parts
of them were worn out, and even then I found their legs of great service
in frosty weather. So far from refreshing me, the brandy and water I had
taken made me very ill.

The grateful idea of being at last in a fair way of succeeding and
overcoming all difficulties began now to be highly cherished. I found
myself on an excellent road, got a supply of very fine turnips out of an
adjoining garden, and discovered regular posts on the roadside. I kept
running all night, with very little intermission, resolved, at all
events, to get near the Rhine before morning. The road continued for
about four leagues through a wood. On leaving this wood I was brought to
a stand all of a sudden by the walls of a town, which, according to the
names I had received from the old man, was Haguenau; but I had never
supposed that the road led through it, or that it was walled in. It was
also surrounded by a river, which appeared an insurmountable barrier to
my proceeding. It required much resolution (owing to the frost) to take
to the water; however, there was no alternative, necessity has no law,
so I stripped, and, fortunately, swam and waded through one branch of
it. On the other branch I observed a mill, with the house built on an
arch, so as to let the water flow under it. Upon a strict survey, I
perceived that if I could pass this branch, I should be able to make a
circuit round the town, and to get clear off. I approached, saw the
mill-door open, and the road on the opposite side. I was naked, ready to
plunge in this stream as I had into the other, had necessity required
it; but I retired to a shelter, put on my clothes, and, with a
palpitating heart, I passed through the mill, without hearing any noise
but that of the works. The passage seemed to me to be a thoroughfare for
the people who brought their corn to be ground, if not for the
population generally.

I now walked towards Strasbourg, with the cheering confidence that I was
on the proper road. At about half-past three I was a little startled by
hearing a man cough at a short distance behind me. I did not quicken my
pace; but, on the contrary, in order to avoid suspicion, I rather
slackened it. He soon overtook me, saluted me civilly in very broken
French, and expressed his surprise that I had been able to get out of
town so early. This was a shrewd, and to me a very unpleasant,

I told my most unwelcome companion that I believed I was the first out
of the town that morning. I pretended to be of opinion that it was past
five o’clock, and said that I believed it was usual to open the gates of
the town about that hour. He rejoined, “That it was more likely to be
nearer three than five;” and added, “that he wondered to see me
barefooted.” I began to dislike the style of conversation exceedingly;
but I assumed tranquillity, if I had it not; and I told him I was a
soldier, and that, after the severe campaigns we lately had had in
Prussia and against the Russians, we were insensible to cold and
indifferent to all weathers. He assented to all I said, commending my
zeal, and declaring that “we soldiers were wonderful fellows.” I was
glad to hear him say that he was a butcher, going to purchase cattle;
and still more glad when he told me that “he could not bear me company
for more than two miles farther.” Strasbourg was about three leagues
off. At the distance he had named he took leave of me, inviting me to
accept a dram from him at a public-house on the roadside. I excused
myself, observing, “That I had never been accustomed to drink so early.”
The excuse had at least a military probability about it, for in France I
found the soldiers remarkably sober.

The day was breaking fast, and I was approaching a large town, which
made it necessary to get off the highway; so I took the first path to
the right, determining to leave Strasbourg on the left, as it was my
intention to proceed to Switzerland, if I found any considerable
obstacle in attempting to cross the Rhine. I advanced about two or three
miles through the fields, then sat down, wiped my feet, and got my
shoes (with the legs of my stockings) on, though with great difficulty,
as my feet were still very much swelled, and the skin had been partly
peeled off. I limped on in great pain, the morning was very hazy and
disagreeable, and I felt excessively weak. The heat of my feet parched
the upper leather of the shoes to that degree that I was frequently
obliged to stand in a pool or wet place to cool and soften them. Roving
about in the open fields, in excruciating pain and under the greatest
dejection of spirits, without being able to discover a hiding-place, I
remained for some time undetermined how to act.

At length I heard a bell ring, and conjectured it must be in some small
village. The fog was so thick that I could not see any distance. I
directed my course towards the sound, and found what I had supposed. The
village appeared to be a very poor one. After a great deal of hesitation
I resolved to approach the next house, or cottage, to me. My pretext
was, to inquire my distance from the road to Strasbourg. This I
accordingly did. I found two young women spinning flax, dressed
genteelly, after the German manner. They could not understand me. I made
signals that I was thirsty; when one of them brought me some milk, which
I swallowed with great eagerness. I offered payment, but she would not
take any, and made me understand how sorry they were that they could not
speak French. After this, one went out, and shortly returned with a man,
who spoke a little broken French: the less, and the more broken, the
better for me, for this excused me from being too explicit or
communicative. I could willingly have declined her well-meant but
officious services.

What were my feelings may be easily imagined, when my civil instructor
engagingly informed me that the mayor of the village was the only man
amongst them who spoke my language correctly. At that moment I
entertained a most uncharitable wish as to the locality in which his
worship might be confined, at least until I could escape. Imagine then
what my sensations were when my most officiously kind communicant
politely assured me, “That the young woman had been in search of the
mayor; that his worship was not at home: he was, however, expected every
minute; and that immediately he returned he would do himself the
pleasure of coming and conversing with me.” He concluded by assuring me
that the mayor delighted in paying his respects to strangers. I almost
wished that Beelzebub himself had had this polite mayor in his clutches,
or that his worship was thrice triply surrounded by the fairies, by the
demons of Freischütz, if not by the worse imps of another place. All the
visions of a good cheer, an excellent fire, repose and concealment
amongst apparently some of “the best people in the world,” were
destroyed in a moment. I suddenly arose, and assuming a tone of great
gratitude and a sense of obligations, I thanked them cordially for their
hospitality, and thanked them most hypocritically for their extreme
goodness in wishing to procure me the honour of a visit from the mayor;
and I expressed my great regret that I could not wait to receive his
worship, as I was in the greatest haste to get to Strasbourg. Saying
this, I left the house.

I limped on through the fields as fast as I could, every now and then
looking behind me to see if these well-intentioned people were watching
which way I took; or rather, whether their officious kindness had led to
a pursuit of me. The weather was, fortunately, thick and hazy, and I
advanced through the fields, carefully avoiding those in which I could
perceive people at work. I had an opportunity this day of getting an
excellent supply of turnips. This part of the country abounds in them;
they are the principal food of their cattle; and the peasantry were
busily employed in piling them in heaps, and covering them with earth,
as the winter store of provender. In one respect, at least, I might have
thought myself reduced very much to the condition of Nebuchadnezzar, for
both my food and shelter resembled those of four-footed animals. My
punishment, however, was not to be so long. “My poverty, and not my
will, consented.”

After a long state of suspense I descried a kind of shrubbery about a
mile off, and I instantly bent my steps towards it. I found it was a
thick enclosure, and well adapted for a hiding-place. Though wet to the
skin, I immediately began my preparations for the night. My feet were so
much worse that it was utterly impossible to get my shoes on. However, I
thought I might be able to limp on by some means or other to the Rhine
that night. At my usual time I hobbled forth. The night set in with
incessant rain, and I found myself in a short time surrounded with
marshes and rivers, and in total darkness. After wading through a
multiplicity of bogs, I at length found myself in a tolerably clear
country, and my feet felt better from the moisture. It was, however,
useless to keep walking on, as I might increase the distance I had to
go, instead of diminishing it. I therefore resolved, if I could get a
convenient place, to halt until it should clear up. I espied a house at
some distance and made for it, hoping to find shelter near it. It proved
to be a large farmhouse. It was now about midnight. I got into the
yard, and could hear the cattle in the stables and cow-houses feeding. I
could not help envying the beasts that were so comfortably provided for,
but my fears deterred me from attempting to join them, and I proceeded
to some distance from the dwelling, into the open fields, where I
discovered a few willow-trees by a large dyke, one of which was of a
tolerably good size, and its trunk afforded me shelter. It was close to
a pathway, which was no small encouragement, as I expected it led my
way. I sat down by the willow, and earnestly prayed that the clouds
might disperse, and the stars show themselves and guide me out of the
misery I was overwhelmed with. Being excessively faint, I fell into a
kind of slumber; and some time had elapsed, when, on a sudden, I was
startled at hearing the footsteps of a man. As information was actually
indispensable, and as I might not have any other opportunity of
obtaining it, I determined to accost the passenger, got up, and followed
him. He walked so exceedingly fast that I had to hobble, or even run, to
overtake him, though the pain occasioned by doing so was excruciating.
On coming up I accosted him in French, and he answered me very civilly.
He was in a peasant’s garb, but I much feared that this might be merely
a disguise. With some little preamble and circumlocution, I asked him my
way to Strasbourg. He replied that I was on the right road, and that, as
he was going there, we could accompany each other. Heaven forgive me for
hypocrisy, when I assured him I should be glad of his company.

Although he spoke French tolerably well, I perceived that he had a
German accent. This pleased me much, and I began to hope that by
devising some very plausible tale, and by feigning to make him my
confidant, he might be so well deceived, and so much flattered, as not
to betray me, even if he were a _gendarme_ in disguise.

Putting on suitable looks and gestures, I began my story. I told him
that as he appeared to be a friendly, honest kind of man, I wished to
disclose to him what I was and where I was going, and that I earnestly
begged for his advice. He listened to me with much complacency. I
continued my narrative, and with as pathetic a tone as I could assume. I
told him that I was an unfortunate conscript, a native of Switzerland;
that I had lately received an account of the death of my parents, in
consequence of which I had become possessed of a small independence, and
that I had applied for permission to go and settle my affairs, and had
been refused. My companion heard all this with such an appearance of
honest sympathy that I came to my climax, and divulged that this cruel
refusal had induced me to desert, and that I had determined never more
to serve the French nation. I told him that I should feel quite secure
if I could only get the other side of the Rhine; and concluded by saying
that I relied upon his goodness to direct me, and that I had three
crowns which were at his service, if he would only procure me a passage
across the river. How fertile are necessity and danger in giving a poor
mortal a faculty for invention!

The man continued to the last to listen to me attentively, every now and
then stopping and surveying me earnestly. I did not much like his
scrutinising looks. At last he desired me to be of good cheer, and said
that my confidence in him was not by any means misplaced; there could
not be much risk in crossing the Rhine, and he would direct me how to
proceed and where to procure a boat. We had passed a small village
about a mile, when he halted quite short or suddenly, felt for his
tobacco-box, and exclaimed, “My God, I have lost it!” He thought he
recollected where he must have dropped it. I wished to know if it was of
any value, otherwise it was not worth turning back for it. He answered,
“Yes, my friend, it cost me twenty sols” (tenpence). I endeavoured to
dissuade him from going back, but all my entreaties proved useless. The
fact was, I dreaded this was only a pretext to return to the village, in
order to give information and have me arrested. He advised me to remain
in a place which he pointed out until he came back. I informed him I
would; yet I had no intention to keep my promise. He then quitted me,
and I directed my course towards the appointed spot; but when I had lost
sight of him I changed my position, and, after a severe struggle, in the
most excruciating agony, I got on the legs of my stockings, my old
shoes, and an old pair of gaiters which I managed to button over all. I
then placed myself in a tolerably good thicket, where I could see him
without being seen. Here I remained in a state of uncertainty very near
a hour, when, to my great satisfaction, I saw him returning by himself.
I therefore regained the appointed place before he arrived, lest he
might discover my suspicions. He had not found the box, and regretted
very much its loss. We were now approaching the ancient and well-known
city of Strasbourg, and could very plainly see its steeples, the
principal one of which is acknowledged to be one of the highest and most
beautiful in Europe. But, whatever admiration I may feel for works of
art, I was in that condition which disqualified me for enjoying the
sight of church steeples.

The stranger now began his own history, as a return for my communicative
confidence. He informed me that he was a Russian by birth, had been a
long time in the French army, and had deserted the service. A Russian in
the French service struck me as improbable. He then dwelt greatly on the
timidity of _young_ deserters. He when he first deserted, thought he
should be arrested if he but saw the top of a steeple, and advised me to
advance boldly to a part of the Rhine which he would point out, where
there were fishermen that would instantly put me across for a mere
trifle. I wished him to accompany me to the place, offering him two of
the crowns which he had already refused. He would neither accompany me
nor receive the money, but contented himself with assuring me that there
was no danger. Close to the gates of this renowned city he told me that
he must quit me. I therefore begged of him to accept one crown, which he
received with great pleasure. I then shook hands with him, and proceeded
in the direction he had pointed out. I have always since considered my
meeting with this kind stranger as a providential interference in my
favour, at a moment when I was quite at a loss to direct myself, and did
not know which way to turn or what on earth to do.

I had proceeded about half a mile, when, from the number of country
people I met going into the city, and from the singularity of my
appearance and dress, particularly on a Sunday, I thought it most
prudent to get off the highway, and as quickly as possible. I
accordingly got into a garden hard by, and seated myself by a brook, in
which, cold and unpleasant as it felt, I washed off the mud and dirt,
and I scraped and cleaned myself in the best manner I could, I then
advanced, passing through several little villages, and crossed the
river Ill in a fisherman’s small boat, and for two _sols_. This
extraordinary success cheered and emboldened me amazingly. I afterwards
proceeded eagerly to the place that had been pointed out by my
providential guide, whilst my passage of the Ill gave me a new
confidence in his counsel, with respect to feeling, or at least assuming
assurance and composure.

In a short time I caught a view of the broad and majestic river. My
heart palpitated with joy, and at length I found myself on the banks of
the Rhine.


     The banks of the Rhine--Contemplations of crossing the river
     irregularly--Difficulties of finding a legal passage--Mistaking two
     armed officers for two harmless fishermen--An appeal to feelings,
     and a national assurance of patriotism--Cattle crossing the bridge
     of Kehl--An intermixture with the cattle, and a passage over the
     Rhine--Joy of being out of France--A progress towards
     Friburg--Contrast between a warm feather bed and bivouacing in the
     mud--An innocent landlord clever at a guess--An escape round
     Friburg--A night’s rest--_En route_ to Constance--A village inn--A
     countryman for a waiter, and a long gossip upon personal histories,
     and native places--The inconsistencies of superstition and
     hunger--My approach to Constance--Effects on the mind produced by
     its magnificent scenery, and beautiful lake--Crossing a branch of
     the Lake Constance--Leaving the kingdom of Wirtemberg, and entering
     the kingdom of Bavaria--A night’s rest in a Bavarian village--_La
     route_ to Lindau--Outmarching an enemy--The gate to
     Lindau--Successfully passing the sentinels--Elation of spirits--An
     awkward querist--Unsuccessful invention--A capture--Examination and
     imprisonment--Bitter reflections upon my cruel destiny.

It was on Sunday, the 22nd day of November (the eighth day since I had
escaped), that all my sufferings and perils were so amply rewarded, by
my reaching the margin of this majestic stream, where I arrived at about
one in the afternoon, but was distressed at not being able to discover
the fishermen’s huts that had been described to me by my friend. My
anxiety was extreme. This part of the bank of the river was entirely
covered with trees and very high grass. I had traversed the bank in
various directions without success, when I at last espied a small punt
hauled into a creek, without sculls or paddles, and fastened by a lock
and chain to a tree. This I thought might be a resource for escape, if
no better means could be found; but the thought originated in despair,
for the river was excessively rapid, and interspersed with shoals and
islands, and as I was not more than three or four miles above the bridge
of Kehl, I might be drifted to nearly that distance were I to endeavour
to cross it by myself, and thus, in all probability, fall into the hands
of my enemies.

I therefore hesitated, and concealed myself in a thick covert, and
rested on the grass, contemplating the course and windings of this
celebrated and noble river, much perplexed as to what further steps I
should take. However, I resorted to my old plan of refreshing myself by
a suitable quantity of turnips; and, having found an abundance of them
in the neighbourhood of the city, I was not very sparing of my vegetable
diet. After a short time, I recommenced my search; and, in a little boat
at a small distance, I observed two men pulling down a narrow creek. I
was quite elated at this discovery, as I made sure they were fishermen;
and I therefore advanced towards them without any hesitation whatever. I
then called to them. On discovering me, they instantly made towards the
bank on which I was standing. I need not say how happy I felt at that
moment, expecting in a few minutes to be on the German side. But, my
God! what was my astonishment, when, as these men approached, I
discovered they were armed with muskets and sabres! It was too late to
attempt a retreat; and, as I had called them, I imagined that might, in
a great measure, do away with suspicion on their part. I therefore
waited the result of this rencontre.

One of them immediately jumped out of the boat, and came towards me. I
appeared quite pleased; and, although I plainly saw he was going to
interrogate me, I showed him a _six franc_ piece, and very deliberately
asked him if he would give me a passage across in his boat? He could not
answer me, as he did not understand a word of French; but the man in the
boat heard me, and replied, “We cannot, but we are much at your
service.” I perceived he was a real Frenchman; and having said thus
much, he jumped out also.

“I suppose, sir,” added he, “that you have a passport, and proper papers
to entitle you to quit this country?” I made answer, “Certainly. But who
authorised you,” I asked, “to demand so impertinent a question?” “I am
authorised by the mayor of Strasbourg; and, unless you can produce them,
I shall be under the necessity of conducting you into his presence as a
prisoner.” I told him I was very willing to go with him, though it would
be certainly a little inconvenient. “I have friends on the opposite
side, whom I promised to visit this evening; it would have been too late
if I had taken the round by the bridge; and that was my motive for
wishing to get across from where I now am.”

This man appeared to be a very acute sort of fellow. “I suspect,” added
he, “that you are a deserter from the army, and I must conduct you to
Strasbourg.” I showed him my dress, and the quality of the cloth I wore
(though a little the worse for the late usage, it was superfine), and I
asked him “when he had seen a French soldier wear anything to be
compared to it?” “Ay, ay,” cried he, “French soldiers know how to
disguise themselves in a superior style; so you will have the goodness
to come along with us.” I remonstrated on the hardship of being thus
prevented from going to see my friends. He stamped, and said, “Come
along!” The German, more cool and phlegmatic, appeared to mutter
something to the other. I embraced this opportunity of altering my tone
and plan altogether; and I addressed the Frenchman nearly in the same
words I had done my late Russian guide in the morning, with respect to
my opinion of his honesty, goodness of heart, etc., but differed widely
in regard to my native place.

I was now come from Wirtemberg, not far from the banks of the Rhine, and
had been educated at Paris, where I had relations. At an early age I had
been removed to Hanover, where a friend of mine had obtained for me an
ensigncy in the King of England’s service. At the time the French took
that place, I escaped into Prussia, where I got a lieutenancy, and had
been made prisoner at the late battle of Jena. I had recently received
an account of the death of my parents, who had left me a tolerably good
property, and I felt anxious to revisit my native country, from which I
had been so long absent. Being closely confined at Chalons (our depot),
I had made my escape, and had now no obstacle to surmount but what he
could easily remedy (meaning the river). I concluded, by requesting him
for a moment to consider himself in my situation, and to judge of mine
by an appeal to his own feelings. I saw that this reasoning began to
work powerfully. I then produced the six livres I had already offered
the German, and requested they would accept of them, and put me across.
It was a mere trifle, but I was not in a condition to afford more. The
Frenchman spoke very feelingly; declared that it was utterly impossible
for them to put me over, as they ran a risk of being arrested on the
opposite side, and punished for landing anybody clandestinely. They then
desired that I would hold up my hand, and declare solemnly that I had
committed no crime against the state. To this I could have no objection,
and promptly did so. They were satisfied, ordered me _to be off_, and
advised me to conceal myself in the wood, saying, “Get over how you can;
we will not molest you.” I insisted upon their taking the piece of
money. They embarked; and I hurried into the wood, not a little pleased
at this narrow escape.

After I got secured in an excellent hiding-place, the whole scene
appeared as a dream; nor could I help ejaculating to myself several
times, “What a fortunate fellow! What a miraculous escape!” I remained
concealed until dark, and then turned my steps towards the city, hoping
that I might be more successful in finding a boat; but in this hope I
was miserably disappointed. My case seemed desperate.

At daybreak on Monday, 23rd November, I discovered myself nearly at the
entrance of Kehl bridge. This bridge was thronged with oxen, and their
bellowing, with the cracking of whips, and the whistling, shouting,
swearing, and disputing of the drovers, made a hideous noise, and
created a great scene of confusion. It struck me suddenly that I might
take advantage of the disorder, intermix with the cattle, and pass the
bridge, eluding the vigilance of the sentinels. I was harassed, worn
out, and weary of being kept in such a state of suspense, as well as of
being perpetually agitated by the conflicts of hope and fear. I felt
that I was too much exhausted to continue longer living on my diet of
raw vegetables, and without shelter, as the season was getting far
advanced, and the weather becoming worse and worse every day. Full of
these and similar reflections, I addressed myself to the all-seeing and
beneficent Providence for protection, and I proceeded to seize the
opportunity without delay.

I advanced briskly on the bridge; and, getting amongst the cattle, in a
very few minutes I had passed the major part of them, as well as the two
French sentinels that were muffled up in their sentry-boxes at the foot
of the bridge. My enterprise, thanks to the oxen, succeeded
astonishingly. In a quarter of an hour, to my heartfelt satisfaction, I
found myself safe on the German side of the Rhine, having passed, amidst
the cattle, I suppose eight or nine French and German sentinels, without
being challenged or noticed by one of them. Thank God, I was now out of
France. I may have been partly indebted to the weather for my escape;
for the morning was extremely raw and cold, and the sentries kept so
well within their boxes, that, amidst the noise, the jostling, and
confusion of the cattle, they had but little opportunity of seeing me.

With a light and most thankful heart, I passed on without interruption,
leaving Kehl to the left; and, suddenly turning to the right, I soon got
on the high road to Friburg. The effect of this escape upon my spirits
seemed to give ease and elasticity to my steps, and strength to my whole
body. My entire animal frame seemed invigorated; and, as I cast my eye
over the broad expanse of the noble river, and saw France, the land of
my persecution, on the other side, I gave way to reflections that I may
as well not repeat.

After walking as rapidly as, in my state, I could, nearly three
leagues, I stopped in a small village on the high road to refresh
myself, having for nearly nine days lived entirely on raw vegetables. I
was determined now to pass for a Frenchman, for I was no longer
tormented with fears of French _gendarmes_. At the public-house I went
into, without suspicious looks or alarming inquiries, I got readily
supplied with plenty of bread and cheese, and a pint of wine, which,
though of a very inferior quality, surpassed at that moment anything I
had ever tasted. Danger and sufferings, excessive fatigue and hunger,
would make the worst of food seem good and delicious.

After my refreshing meal, and my comfortable rest by the side of the
fire, at about two o’clock I took my leave, and proceeded on my journey
fearlessly, keeping the high road to Friburg. To a man who feels himself
free, the very air of Heaven seems sweeter and more refreshing than to
the bondsman, and I felt myself in freedom, compared at least to what I
long had been.

Owing to the state of my feet, my progress was but slow. At night I
began to be perplexed as to how I should act, for I dreaded that the
laws of Baden and Wirtemberg, with respect to travellers, might be
similar to those of France, and that every landlord or host might be
required to demand the passport of his guest, and to exhibit it at the
Municipality, before being allowed to supply him with a bed. After
deliberating a long time, I came to the resolution to enter a small
poor-looking village then before me. A place of that description
appeared the best to try the experiment in. At about half-past seven, I
got directed to a public-house; everything appeared to favour me, so I
entered, and asked if I could be provided with a bed? The landlord
answered in very good French, in the affirmative, and added supper also
if I wished. After making a hearty meal, I insisted on his taking some
wine with me, and then expressed a wish to go to bed, observing that I
was a little fatigued. He ordered the servant to light me to my room,
nor did he trouble me with any inquiries. The servant, after giving me a
nightcap, retired, and I then secured my chamber door. My feet were in a
most shocking condition; not a bit of skin was on the greater part of
them; it literally had stuck to the upper leathers of my shoes, and I
was under the necessity of moistening them with water, before I could
get them off. I then tore a couple of strips from my shirt (which by the
bye was now greatly reduced), put some candle-grease on, and applied the
strips to the sore places. My feet being thus dressed, although in a
very imperfect manner, I took off my clothes and went to bed. I found it
a very good one, though peculiar in its form, which was strange to me,
it being the custom of this country to sleep between two feather-beds,
the largest in general uppermost; but I had sheets and a counterpane, as
in other countries.

Notwithstanding the excruciating pain of my feet, I never in my life
felt so happy as at that moment. It is true that the sensations I felt
in the morning after passing the bridge at Kehl were ecstatic, and of a
nature that no pen can ever describe, but I really thought that my
present feelings exceeded them. I found myself lying in a bed softer to
me than down, with a mind tolerably at peace, and Heaven knows that to
be possessed of peace of mind had lately been but very seldom my lot. I
need not say, that, after humbly offering up my most sincere and
grateful thanks to the Almighty God for His goodness and protection, I
fell into a most profound sleep, nor did I once open my eyes until
daylight the next morning, when, though greatly refreshed, I found my
legs exceedingly stiff, and my feet sore in the extreme.

It was impossible for me to walk, and a hard job even to get my shoes
on. At last, I even accomplished this, though with great pain and
difficulty, and I at length descended and ordered breakfast. Reflecting
on the past, the idea of ordering breakfast--the very sounds of the
words made me to laugh.

The landlord was obliging and civil, and I found it convenient, to a
certain extent, to be communicative. I observed to him, I was very stiff
in all my limbs and joints, for I had never been much accustomed to
walking, and I had taken it into my head to perform my journey from
_Frankfort_, this _last time_, on foot. I added that I was going to
Basle in Switzerland, and wanted to get to Friburg that evening, and
would therefore be much obliged to him if he could procure me a

The man seemed to harbour no suspicions, and, having sent to inquire if
I could be accommodated, he added, “I can guess what you are.” I must
confess I thought this was coming to rather too close quarters. The
position became critical, but I was obliged to humour the moment, and I
asked him to guess. To my joy and surprise he replied, “You are a cloth
merchant, travelling to procure customers.” I told him that I admired
his penetration, and he seemed very much pleased at his cleverness in
discovering, not only what I was, but why and wherefore I was
travelling. I paid him my bill, which was rather moderate. He provided
the cloth merchant with a kind of _voiture_, which could, he said, carry
me only six leagues. This was excellent fortune--exactly what I wished,
as there was no place on the road of any consequence within that short
distance. Had I been obliged to take it on to Friburg, I intended to
have made an excuse, and to have stopped at some village short of that

We soon agreed about the price, and I got into this substitute for a
carriage; the proprietor was postilion; it was an open machine made of
twigs woven together, and forming a rude wicker-work. The morning was
thick, with a drizzling rain. I borrowed a greatcoat from the landlord,
and off we set--a great change was this in my mode of travelling! I had
several turnpikes to pay, and I confess I was alarmed that the
gatekeepers might ask for my passport at some of these _barrières_; but
I was agreeably disappointed, my honest driver observing to them that I
was, _ein Franschose, going to Basle_, which proved sufficient for them
and very gratifying to me.

At about six o’clock in the evening we stopped at a very
respectable-looking village; my conductor made me understand he was
going to leave me there, and that I was but three leagues from Friburg.
I discharged him, and went to a genteel tavern. They sent for a man who
could speak French, to inform them what I wished to have. A very
gentleman-like person made his appearance, and I apprehended in the
beginning it might be the mayor, but my fears were without foundation.
Owing to this gentleman’s goodness in explaining matters, I got a
private apartment and a good supper, and went to bed, very happy and
comfortable at not having been asked any question. In the morning I
arose betimes and ordered breakfast. The genteel interpreter evidently
took me for a gentleman, for he came to ask me if, after breakfast, I
would want a carriage. I could not help smiling at the question, when I
reflected on my scampering amongst the cattle over Kehl bridge only two
mornings before. I merely replied that, as I had but three leagues to
go, I preferred walking. What would I not have given for a carriage, or
even for “a lift” on a donkey’s back, or in a dog-cart, if it were
strong enough, in the throbbing and aching state of my lacerated feet!
But I reflected that it might not be easy, either with my finances, or
with my travelling character, to pass through such a town as Friburg in
a carriage; and Heaven knows that, at that moment, I would have been
most happy to have compromised matters by a certainty of passing through
it on foot, or of getting round it in any manner, in the style I had
been accustomed to on the other side of the Rhine.

My breakfast was now ready, and when I saw coffee, toast, and eggs on
the table-cloth, and thought of my cabbage-stalks and turnips and the
mud of only three days ago, my head, I fancied, began to turn, and
myself to suspect that what I had read in the _Arabian Nights’
Entertainments_ might, after all, have something of truth in it. To me
it had long been a novelty to have anything before me that a human being
not actually starving could eat.

My gentlemanly interpreter kept me in conversation the whole time, and
the part I had to play was to reveal as little--as little of truth, at
least--as possible, and to receive as much information as I could,
taking very good care to separate the chaff from the wheat. The dialogue
sometimes kept me on the tenter-hooks of alarm.

“That is a kind of breakfast, sir, which Englishmen in general like.”

This word, Englishmen, never sounded so unpleasantly in my ears. I
thought the fellow was either pumping me, or that he was giving me a
hint that he knew or suspected that all was not right; or that he, in
fact, had discovered my false colours.

A large piece of toast in my mouth at once gratified appetite and was an
excuse for not answering.

“Englishmen,” continued my tormentor, “only differ from you in dipping
their toast in their coffee.”

I laconically replied, by an indisputable general principle, “I believe
people of all nations like what is good.”

The conversation, to my happiness, ended; I paid my bill, which was
moderate, took leave of my German host, and of his genteel interpreter,
and with a well-satisfied appetite and dry clothes, I set out for

After all, as I went along, I very frequently repented that I had not
confided to my talkative friend, “the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but the truth,” in order that he might either have put me in the
way of procuring a passport, or at least have told me what the laws of
the country really were with respect to travelling. My ignorance on the
subject was most distressing, and occasioned me a great deal of
unnecessary difficulty and fatigue.

About noon I discovered the high spire of the church of Friburg. It very
much resembled that of Strasbourg, and although not on so grand a scale,
it appeared more interesting, because I was no longer under the dangers
that had made me insensible to such objects of grandeur, beauty, and
veneration. I advanced towards the town, still preserving every
precaution, and especially, painful as was the effort, doing my utmost
to avoid the appearance of being lame.

Notwithstanding the success and encouragement I had met with on this
side of the Rhine, the recollections of all I had endured on the other
made me cautious of entering, or even approaching a great town; and yet
I was obliged to walk directly, and in open day, towards Friburg, since,
from the miserable state of my feet, a circuitous course was to me

I reconnoitred the place in every point of view, and at last, timidly
and cautiously, I approached the western gate. Being very uncertain how
to proceed, I did not think it prudent to enter, and the appearance of a
huge grenadier at the gate, walking up and down at his post, made me
turn short on my heel, and relinquish every idea of passing that way. I
walked back nearly half a mile; and fortunately discovered a path
leading round by the northern side of the wall, or rather ruins, as
there are few vestiges of the former wall to be seen. Advancing, I
suddenly came into an old square, where a small number of recruits were
exercising, and in a few minutes I was on the outside of the eastern
gate. I had still a sentinel and a guard-house to pass. However, I
accomplished that without experiencing any difficulty; they supposed, no
doubt, that I came out of the town. I felt now peculiarly happy, since I
found that another great obstacle to me was surmounted. I now took my
direction for Constance, a town of Suabia, seated on the lake of the
same name. The little map I had gave only the names of the larger
places, which perplexed me very much; and after leaving Friburg,
Constance was the next town which appeared on the line that I wished to
take. I found the road very mountainous and irregular. I met several
waggons. As I got warm, my feet became more easy and supple, and I
advanced apace. At about eight o’clock in the evening I discovered a
mill on the roadside, and to my great joy a contiguous dwelling-house. I
made out a sign also, projecting over the door--rapped, and received
admittance. I made the people understand that I wanted a bed, and they
bade me sit down. I thought this a good omen. I wished for something to
eat very much, and they brought me a dish of boiled milk with bread
broken into it, and seasoned highly with pepper. This they styled
milk-soup, and it was all the house afforded.

Not having tasted anything since my English breakfast in the morning,
about seven o’clock, I was not very nice. I was shown to bed, and was
agreeably surprised; for it was a much better one than I had any reason
to expect in such a place. In the morning I had some of the same kind of
soup, and my bill, as it ought to be, was very reasonable. I was
informed that Constance was nineteen leagues distant, and away I limped,
although at first my feet were very sore and stiff. About six in the
evening, the weather became very inclement; and, finding myself close to
a small village, I purposed taking up my abode in it for the night.

I according went into a public-house, and was shown upstairs into the
coffee-room: in these places the public sitting-room is generally on the
first floor. There I found a number of people drinking, and a
respectable-looking priest at their head. I made my _entrée à la
Française_, as near as I was able, and asked, “If I could have a bed?” I
could get no answer; but the landlady called aloud for her domestic,
Peter, who, she said, was a Frenchman, to explain. He at length
appeared; and asked, in very good French, “What I wished to have?” I
asked if “I could be accommodated with a bed and something for supper?”
He replied, “Certainly,” and added, “I shall take care that you are well
attended upon.” This poor fellow was really very attentive and kind. I
supped heartily on soup and _bouilli_, after which I insisted upon his
giving me his history, which he did without any hesitation. It was as

“I was born, sir, in Nancy, in Lorraine, and it is now eleven years
since I quitted my native place.”

Here I thought fit to interrupt him, in order the better to preserve the
disguise which I had assumed. I told him “that I had observed, the
moment he began to speak, a vast difference between his accent and mine,
and I had consequently conjectured that he had been a long time absent
from Lorraine;” and I added “that the Lorraine accent was very different
from that of other parts of France.” This interruption was fortunate and
well-timed; for the man, by way of rejoinder, said--

“I have forgotten a great deal of my mother tongue; and I can tell you
that I was going to make the same remark with respect to your accent
that you have made upon mine; but now you have saved me the trouble, by
accounting for the difference. But, to continue my narrative, I assure
you, sir, all that has befallen me has been the consequence of my having
been drawn for a conscript; for it went against my nature to serve
Buonaparte. I was by trade a weaver, and I knew that I could get a
living in any country; and, painful as it was to part from my family and
friends, I one morning took French leave, crossed the Rhine, and have
been eight years with my present landlord. He keeps a kind of
manufactory, in which I have worked until very lately; but wishing to
have a trusty person in the _auberge_, he has made me drop my old trade
of weaver, and attend here in my present capacity.”

I now asked him if he had ever been in Normandy, which, I said, was my
part of France.

He emphatically said “Never,” and expressed a wish to know what trade I
belonged to. Here my invention was put to the stretch; but, with as much
readiness as I could command, I told him that I was a _marchand de
drap_, travelling to Constance to receive orders. As a weaver, this
honest fellow must have known much more of cloths than I did, and a
further conversation would have exposed my ignorance; so allowing no
time for another interrogatory, I added, “I am exceedingly weary, and
wish to retire to bed;” and upon this he civilly conducted me to my
chamber, and took his leave without another word, except the usual
good-night. My bed was very comfortable, and I slept very sound,
enjoying my good quarters, and reaping all the benefits of refreshment
from repose. In the morning I settled with my pretended countryman,
shook hands, and parted from him.

I proceeded on the high-road until two o’clock, when, greatly to my
alarm, I met with an armed man in a very retired part of the road. I
conjectured that he was a police-officer; but, to my surprise, he asked
me no questions, and I joyfully pursued my way.

At the close of the evening I discovered at a distance what I took to be
a number of houses, and I was highly elated, as I imagined them to be a
village. Under this pleasing illusion I trudged on with increased
spirits; but, on arriving at my object, what was my astonishment to
find that the buildings, instead of being the humble dwellings of simple
villagers, were the numerous out-offices of the splendid mansion of a
nobleman! One of the liveried servants, however, very civilly answered
all my questions, and, with much kindness of manner, directed me to a
village, but at such a distance that it was very late before I arrived
at it. However, late as it was, I contrived to procure a bed and a
supper. My host and hostess were, unfortunately for hungry stomachs and
ravenous appetites, a little prone to the bane of life called
superstition; and, as it was Friday, they absolutely refused to let me
have any meat; but still the keen edge of hunger enabled me to enjoy a
supper of eggs and milk, and their faith did not compel their
consciences to limit me in quantity.

In the morning I quitted them, and walked towards Constance. I had not
gone above a league when I descried the beautiful lake of that name. The
town of Zürich was in view.[13] The high mountains of Switzerland, the
summits of which were covered with snow, the variegated, beautiful
plains at the bottom, interspersed with corn-fields, vineyards, wood,
and herbage, struck the eye with admiration, and afforded a prospect
truly magnificent. At about five in the afternoon I was close to the
town of Constance. It appeared large: a number of buildings,
representing monasteries and steeples, presented themselves to view, and
seemed to be memorials of its ancient splendour; but its present state
indicated that it had been a long time neglected. The lake looked very
beautiful, and was a little agitated, as there was rather a strong

Lindau, at the lower end of the lake, was the next large town in my
direction. I was deliberating on the best mode of acting for the
night,--whether I had better take up my abode in the vicinity of the
town, or proceed farther towards Lindau,--when I met with two young men,
genteelly dressed. I saluted them, which they returned very politely.
Both spoke French. I inquired what distance I was from Lindau. They
informed me, fourteen leagues, and that I should have to cross a branch
of the lake.[14] Of this latter necessity I had been totally ignorant;
for the map by which I guided myself through these, to me, unknown
regions was too small and imperfect to afford very accurate information.
As the wind became very strong, the strangers advised me not to venture
upon the passage until the next day. They little knew my motives for
rapidity. Of course, I concealed my ignorance of this impediment, or
rather pretended that I was aware of it; and I added, “that I had such
particular business at Lindau that I must endeavour to get there that
night, and should cross the passage if possible.” They rather earnestly
tried to dissuade me, and then politely took their leave.

My difficulties in crossing the water arose from a source very different
from what they had imagined. My formidable obstacles and dangers were
not the elements, but my fellow-men. I had now to learn whether I could
cross this branch without a passport, and without giving--what of all
things was the most inconvenient for me to give--some account of myself.
However, the necessity of decision, firm and immediate, was absolute;
and I entered a public-house close to the water, in order to learn what
I should have to undergo.

Here, to my annoyance, was a concourse of people, some of whom appeared
to be waiting for the boat. I mixed with the crowd with all the seeming
carelessness and nonchalance I could assume, and called for a small
measure of wine, as I saw others do; and, in fact, I settled down
amongst the multifarious assemblage as if I was “quite at home.” I had
the eyes of Argus; and whilst I listened to every sound, I was as little
communicative as possible. I felt that I was at a crisis of my fate. At
last two watermen entered, and announced that the boat was ready. I was
obliged to assume a courage, and to obey the summons as if it were a
matter of course; and to my joy I found that although I was leaving
Würtemberg and entering into the territory of Bavaria,[15] not a
passenger was required to produce a passport or to give any account of

When we were about to embark, I observed that all the passengers paid
one half-florin each, while the boatmen demanded two florins of me.
Never was a man more willing to submit to imposition and extortion than
I was at that moment; but my funds were quickly ebbing to neap-tide, if
not to low-water, and it struck me that my best policy was to resist
anything that separated or distinguished me from the general mass.

I therefore objected to the imposition so stoutly that the boatmen
resolved to detain me until they called their master, or the owner of
the boat.

He was a very little and old hump-backed man, that might have passed for
Obi among the negroes. The old hunchback, with the utmost civility that
a rogue could put on when about to cheat a fellow-creature in distress,
addressed me as follows:--“Monsieur, if you do not choose to pay, you
may act as you please, and you can remain where you are.” This was
absurd logic to my ears, and very inconvenient reasoning to my pocket;
but whilst I was pondering for a politic and cautious reply, the
tormentor resumed his license of speech, and said, “Monsieur, you are a
Frenchman; and as your friend and master, Buonaparte, robs and plunders
everybody, I hold it to be all fair that I make you Frenchmen pay what I

I must confess that this identification of me with a Frenchman gave me
an assurance that my real character was not suspected; and although my
purse was nearly at low-water mark, I paid the cross-grained, old
curmudgeon his four hundred per cent profit upon ferrying over a

Our Liliputian voyage was only about four miles, and yet, in the midst
of it, I had nearly exposed or betrayed myself; for a sudden puff of
wind or slight squall, coming off the land, would have upset the boat,
had I not snatched the sheet (of the sail) from the hand of the clumsy
fellow that managed it. This was “the ruling passion” strong in
everything. The boatmen seemed astonished: they stared at each other,
but said nothing. In fact, I had acted imprudently. A Frenchmen is
seldom or never considered to be a sailor; and every Englishman is
viewed by a foreigner as a man naturally familiar with all nautical
affairs; and our boatmen, I apprehended, began to suspect that “I was no

We now reached the opposite shore, and entered the territory of
Bavaria.[16] We were about to land at a small fortified town; and
ramparts, embrasures, and bristling guns presented to my mind strong
ideas of examining passports, and of even searching persons, with the
inevitable result of chains, handcuffs, and a dungeon.

The sound of drums saluted my ears in all directions, and I feared it
was for the shutting of the gates. Being landed, I continued with the
others, passing through the street, and inquired, without causing
suspicion, “What time the gates would be closed?” They replied, “In
three-quarters of an hour.” To my unspeakable joy, no person appeared to
inspect papers. My fellow-passengers went to an inn, and I asked for the
nearest way out of the town on the Lindau road. Having received the
required information, I proceeded, and, to my great delight, finding the
gate open, I very soon passed it.

I proceeded about two leagues without falling in with a living creature
or seeing anything like a habitation. I at length saw lights, and soon
arrived in a small village.[17] Necessity urged me on, and I went into a
public-house and got a bed and supper. Several people were drinking in
the room where I was; they laughed heartily at my Frenchified bows and
scrapes, and wished me to drink with them, but which I declined. I slept
tolerably well, and felt happy at having amused those fellows, at the
same time that my grimaces answered my own purpose.

At daybreak, on Sunday, 29th November, I got some breakfast, and
proceeded towards Lindau. My feet were getting better, and I advanced
with great glee. After passing through several picturesque villages on
the banks of the lake, at about five o’clock of the afternoon I saw the
town of Lindau, and calculated that it was between four and five miles
off. I halted at a small village[18] to refresh myself, as well as
because I conjectured that it was too early, though it was apparently at
a respectable distance, to pass by the town, more especially as it
appeared large, and as it, moreover, struck me that, being Sunday, I
should have to meet many people in the environs. I therefore entered a
public-house, and found in it two women and a man eating their dinner,
or rather supper. From the landlady, who was an old woman, I got some
wine, bread, and sausages, and I contrived to amuse away, or rather to
spin out, the time until it was nearly seven o’clock. I now judged it
proper to proceed; and paying the old dame, I set out, full of hope, not
unmixed with care and anxiety, but still little suspecting the extent of
the evil that was to befall me.

I had not proceeded many hundred yards when I discovered that several
soldiers were walking very fast behind me. I thought that they might be
in pursuit of me. I next conjectured that if they were not in chase,
they were making speed, in order not to be shut out of the town for the
night. Either calculation was a sufficient motive for me to move in
double-quick march. I continued at this pace for about three-quarters of
a league, until, upon turning suddenly an angle on the road, I
discovered that I was close to the gate that led to the town. I
likewise saw the town itself, at a considerable distance, on an island,
and found that this was the gate of the bridge which connected that
island with the mainland.

The soldiers were close in the rear; I therefore did not think it
prudent to turn back; and I flattered myself that there was no
necessity, as I perceived that my road led to the _left_, after passing
the gate on my right hand. I thought that our course might be in
opposite directions. In this hope I proceeded--passed the gate and
sentinel--not a question was asked me, or a look bestowed upon me--my
heart rebounded with joy--I was safe--my sufferings were rewarded, and a
glorious triumph filled my imagination, even to ecstasy. Lameness was
forgotton; and I was, if I may use the term, tripping along full of
visions of the little I should have to undergo, of the little time that
would elapse, ere I should be again upon England’s element, under her
glorious flag, and in the exercise of all my duties of a naval officer.

Alas! how frail are all human hopes! In this state of mind I was
suddenly stopped by an elderly man, who, it appeared, had followed me
from the gate. He very civilly asked in German if I had a passport. As a
_ruse de guerre_, I replied in French, “That I did not understand his
language.” To my surprise and alarm, he readily met my reply, and, in
excellent French, politely expressed his desire _to see my passport_. I
wished him and his question in a worse place than limbo or the river
Styx; but, as my invention had so often been put to extremities, I was
not at a loss to parry his unpleasant interrogatories. I assured the old
gentleman that I had lost the whole of my papers, and, I added, what was
worse, almost all my money, with several little articles of property,
whilst I was crossing the lake on the preceding evening. In fact, I said
that my pocket-book had dropped out of my pocket, and sank to rise no
more, as the money it contained had, unfortunately, made it too heavy to

The old gentleman seemed so thoroughly to believe me, that I also added
that I was going to Innsprück, where I had some friends, and as the
journey would last only two or three days, I thought I could proceed
without any interruption. At all events, I intended to make the

At this moment several soldiers advanced from the gate towards me; and
as I had, to all appearances, so perfectly satisfied the old gentleman,
I thought that they came only out of curiosity, or even politeness.

At last the keeper of the gate, with a kindness which I most willingly
could have excused, assured me that Innsprück was farther off than I
imagined; that it would be inconvenient for me to continue my journey
without papers; and he reminded me that it was now getting very late.

I told him that I was accustomed to late hours, and quite indifferent to
inconveniences, and that it did not suit me to delay my journey.

My jesuitical tormentor took me up on my own grounds, and replied, that
to a man so accustomed to late hours, and so indifferent to
inconveniences, it could be of little concern to be detained only one
night, especially as the delay would be so amply compensated by the
increased facilities of travelling which I would enjoy from the new
papers that the commandant of Lindau would give me on the following
morning. No logic could be more sound, but never did reasoning fall more
unpleasantly upon a human ear.

I thanked this gate-keeper and all around me for their kind intentions,
and assuring them that I preferred following my own course, I made them
many polite bows, and turned my back in the act of pursuing my journey.
Upon this the polite old gentleman gave me to understand, what I had
long understood, that the plain English of all his politeness was, that
he meant to _detain_ me, although he was willing to do it as civilly as
possible. Suiting the action to the word, he called a body of soldiers
to enforce his politeness.

I was obliged to command my countenance, and to control all emotions,
bitter as they were. With the utmost appearance of calmness, I replied,
“You need no assistance, my good friend; I am ready to accompany you
wherever you please, although it is putting me a little out of my way,
and subjecting me to not a little inconvenience.” Would to Heaven that
the inconvenience had been little!

I accompanied my captor with an aching heart. I commanded my feelings
sufficiently, however, to reflect that my only hope of escape rested
upon my making out a plausible story for the commandant, and I spun the
web of an ingenious fiction as I proceeded under my escort.

At about half-past eight we arrived at the commandant’s quarters, and I
was ushered into an extensive vestibule. In a few minutes the great man
made his appearance. He was magnificently dressed, wore his sword, and,
as I was given to understand, was on the point of going to the Opera. He
seemed vexed at so vulgar a cause of detention from his amusement; and I
am sure that I was equally vexed, or rather by far more vexed, at
inconveniencing so august a personage.

This commandant could not speak French, and was obliged to wait for his
secretary and interpreter, who no sooner arrived than he called for pen,
ink, and paper, placed himself at a table, and with a great deal of
ridiculous consequence ordered me to advance and answer the questions he
should put to me. He then proceeded in the following manner:--“What
countryman are you, pray?” “A Frenchman.” “What part of France were you
born in?” “At Rouen, in Normandy.” “Proceed and give an account of
yourself.” “My name is Louis Gallique” (the cook’s name of our late
frigate _Hussar_). “My father was a surgeon in Rouen, where I have got a
brother (of the same profession) and two sisters. My parents have been
dead some time. I got my reform, or discharge from the army, through my
brother’s interest. I am going to Innsprück to see some friends; thence
I intend to proceed to Vienna, where I expect to be employed as a clerk
in a counting-house.” “How did you lose your pocket-book and papers?”
“In crossing a branch of the lake, a puff of wind was near oversetting
the boat; my pocket-book must have dropped out as I was leaning over. I
cannot account for losing it in any other manner. It was a very great
misfortune, as I lost all my money, with the exception of a few loose
pieces which I kept in my pocket, and also my letters of recommendation,
passport, papers, etc.” “What are your German friends’ names?” I gave
him French names, and told him they were all of French extraction. He
then began to explain the whole to the commandant; and after some
minutes’ consideration he informed me, “That I appeared to be a very
suspicious character, and they must send me to the guard-house for the
night. In the morning I should be lodged in gaol, until I could be
identified by the French Government, or, in the meantime, by my friends
at Innsprück or Vienna.” I exposed the cruelty of such conduct to a
subject of the great Napoleon, who was their ally, and the protector of
the Confederation of the Rhine. I added, they might now act as they
thought proper, but I had friends who would have their conduct made
known. They made no reply, and I was escorted to the guard-house. In an
hour after, I was brought back and underwent a similar examination. Then
they ordered me to the common gaol, where, they apprised me, I should be
very indifferently treated, in consequence of their suspecting me to be
a spy. I disdained so opprobrious an epithet; remonstrated with them
again upon the cruelty of their conduct; but they were inflexible, and I
departed the second time with the guard.

On my way to the gaol I reflected on the horrors of being thrown into
prison, perhaps cast into a dungeon amongst malefactors of every
denomination, and the certainty, in a few days, of being discovered. I
also imagined they might treat me with more kindness if I acknowledged
who I was. I therefore, after much of conflicting calculations, desired
the chief of my escort to conduct me back to the commandant, which he
did. I then told them frankly who and what I was, and how I had escaped.
He said he thought I was an Englishman; and brought a list of the
description of prisoners of war, which he had lately received from
France, and pointed out my name before I mentioned it. He asked me where
my comrades were. I now discovered that this description had been drawn
up on our first escape from Verdun. I assured him I could not tell where
they were--perhaps in England; I had parted with them the first day. I
was anxious to know what other _signalements_ he had? He desired me not
to be inquisitive; said I should be better used now, but must be
confined in the common town prison, where, in a few minutes, I was
safely deposited, and all hopes of liberty were at an end, at least for
the present;[19] for so strong was the love of liberty, so energetic the
desire of free action within me, that, even under this overwhelming
flood of baffled efforts, of detection, exposure, and punishment, my
mind would whisper to me that I might yet have another chance of
escape--a chance I was resolved to take advantage of at all possible


     A fresh incarceration--Stripping a prisoner naked a more effectual
     detainer than chains and padlocks--Hopes of escape prove
     delusive--Gaol surgery and gaol diet--A timely loan of books--A
     short visit from a Swiss captive--Orders to prepare for a return to
     France--A heavy chain and huge padlock--The mob at
     Lindau--Leave-taking between a prisoner and the gaoler and gaoler’s
     wife--The road to France--Going to bed in chains--Strict
     watchings--Chances of a rescue--Anticipations of the horrors of
     Bitche--Commiseration of my guards--Crossing the bridge of Kehl--A
     surrender to the French _gendarmes_--Captivity in the military gaol
     of Strasbourg--A kind gaoler and as kind a wife--His gratitude for
     English kindness when a prisoner of war--Examined by the
     police--Affectionate leave-taking of the honest gaoler and his
     wife--On the road to Bitche, heavily chained to eleven Corsicans
     going to suffer military execution--The horrible dungeon of
     Niederbronn--A revolting night’s confinement--Dreadful sufferings
     of two of the Corsican soldiers--Distant prospects of
     Bitche--Anticipations of a cruel confinement--Arrival at the

It was on a dreary Sunday night, the 29th of November (1807), that I was
led into this gaol. The gaoler and his keepers placed me in a tolerably
decent, well-furnished apartment, with a bed, stove, table, and chair.
This was ample for the accommodation of unsophisticated man, but
external conveniences are not a substitute for the cravings of hunger. I
therefore pointed out to my keepers the exhausted state of my body, and
begged that I might have some refreshment, however humble or however
small. This they granted; but they previously searched me--stripped
me--took away the whole of my clothes, with all that my pockets
contained--which consisted, however, of nothing but a knife, a razor,
and a few pieces of silver. They assured me that all my _property_
should be returned to me at a proper time. But I entreated them to leave
me at least my pantaloons. With this they at length complied. With
respect to my shirt, as the collar and ragged sleeves were all that
remained, I was indifferent to the comfort of preserving it.

I expostulated with my persecutors, and begged to know the reason of
such cruel treatment. They surlily replied that it was the custom of
their country, and that they would take care to prevent my getting away
again. “People who had a great talent for getting out of gaols ought to
be treated accordingly,” they said, and they added that they would
prevent my escaping from their clutches. Saying this, the morose brutes
swung-to the massy door, and my ears were greeted with the noise of
locks, bars, bolts, and my eyes with the prospect of chains, that seemed
heavy enough to secure the bodies of a regiment or an army.

In this state of nudity and solitude I began, with inexpressible grief
and bitter affliction, to meditate upon my unfortunate destiny. At
length a thought flashed upon my mind. Although my cell in its masonry
seemed as strong as the bomb-proof casemate of a fortress, and my ears
had informed me of the massive strength of the door and its ponderous
securities and fastenings, yet it struck me that there might be some
point of weakness of which I might avail myself to effect my escape. I
even inferred, from their taking away my clothes, in order to prevent
my escape, that they were conscious that the gaol was weak in some
point or other. In this pleasant delusion I waited with anxiety till
daylight, that I might make all the observations in my power, and I felt
determined to be off on the following night, even if I should be stark
naked afterwards.

Except when these hopes and frail calculations passed my mind, I was a
prey to the most cruel torments. I never slept--I merely slumbered; and
in those brief slumbers I was dreadfully agitated. At one time I was
seized with the idea that all my late companions were safe, and that I
was the only unfortunate wretch of the party that was doomed to suffer.
In another paroxysm I was tormented with the thoughts of the ease with
which I could have avoided the fatal gateway, had I been aware that I
was on the road that passed it. With what bitterness did I reproach
myself for want of circumspection: in short, I found myself in a state
of distraction. I endeavoured to tranquillise my mind with the hope of
being able to get out of my present prison, or, at all events, of
escaping from my guards on our march back into France; I had already got
away from the most strict guards in the universe, the French
_gendarmerie_. These ideas proved to be a kind of salutary balsam to my
tortured bosom. But I found myself excessively cold during the night. A
severe frost and snow had set in; and at this season of the year I could
not expect it to be otherwise.

In the morning, at an early hour, an old lady (the gaoler’s wife)
presented me with a cup of coffee, which I eagerly swallowed. The poor
woman felt very much for my distressed situation, and actually shed
tears. I begged she would provide me with materials for writing a letter
to the commandant; her husband brought me them, and I remonstrated with
the Cerberus on his cruelty in having me stripped of my clothes in a
gaol (which, to my grief, I now discovered to be too secure), when he
could have no idea of my being able to get away from it. I begged, at
least, to have a neck-handkerchief and cap returned to me, and desired
he would order the money I had been deprived of to be laid out in
purchasing a coarse shirt and pair of stockings, which I very much
wanted. I also requested I might be allowed one of the military surgeons
to dress my feet, that were still in a very bad state. All these demands
he had the kindness to grant. The secretary came and informed me that I
should be detained until they received orders from the Government at
Ulm,[20] which would be in about twelve days. He expressed great sorrow
for my misfortunes, and retired. Great consolation was this to a poor
devil without clothes!

At length the surgeon came, and humanely dressed my sores; and he
expressed his astonishment at how I could have travelled with my feet in
so sad a condition. When I looked at their lacerated state my
astonishment was not less than his; nor was that astonishment lessened
by the extreme pain that they now gave me. I was amazed at how I could
have walked such an immense distance with feet so swollen and so cut to

After the surgeon had quitted me, I went to bed, and I felt a little
more calm in spirit; but vain were all my efforts to close my eyes. Pain
would keep me awake, and busy thought, cheerless of the past, and
hopeless of the future, would crowd into my restless mind.

In this state I lay till noon, when the old lady, the gaoler’s wife,
brought me my dinner. It was a tolerably good meal, considering the
quarters I was in. She informed me that I was allowed nothing but water
to drink. This I considered very inhuman, as my miserable state required
something more stimulating.

In this melancholy condition I received an unexpected consolation. A
Swiss gentleman was confined in an adjacent cell, and he kindly sent me
a few books, amongst which was a _Life of Frederick the Great_, which
interested me very much. I naturally expressed a wish to see my
benefactor, but the old lady told me that there were strict orders to
prevent all intercourse between prisoners. On this point she was
inexorable. I was now supplied with a shirt and a pair of stockings; but
the latter, though large, were totally useless to me, my feet being so
sore, and swollen to such an extraordinary degree.

At seven my kind old hostess brought me supper, made my bed, and took
her leave, exhorting me to patience.

Eleven days passed in the same manner, except that latterly I prevailed
upon my gaoler to deprive me of my breakfast, and to give me in lieu of
it a half-pint of small wine at dinner and at supper, and to allow me a
candle in the evening.

The Swiss gentleman at last managed to see me. He spoke a little
English, and informed me that he had been in the Austrian service, and
had had the honour of serving under His Royal Highness the Duke of York
at Valenciennes, Dunkirk, and other places. He was confined for debt,
had been in gaol eighteen months, and did not expect to be liberated for
six months longer. He appeared to be very much surprised at the
Bavarians using a British officer so cruelly; and after condoling with
me a little, returned to his cell.

On the thirteenth morning, at daybreak, the gaoler appeared with
breakfast and my clothes; and informed me that I was instantly to
prepare for my journey back into France--that my escort would be at the
door in a few minutes. He begged I would keep up my spirits. I assured
him I was well pleased at the information and in being removed from so
solitary a habitation. I certainly cherished the hope of escaping on the
road back, not imagining that I should be treated as a criminal going to
be executed. I had scarcely swallowed my breakfast when two military men
were shown into my apartment; the foremost holding in his hands an
immense iron chain with shackles or fetters, and a large padlock. The
sight of this apparatus destroyed every hope that had before presented
itself with respect to my getting off; however, I pretended to take no
notice of them. This man spoke a little French, saluted me civilly, and
asked, “If I were prepared?” “Yes,” said I, “perfectly so.” “I am
sorry,” resumed he, “to be under the necessity of using these machines.
It is the commandant’s orders; and, as you are an officer yourself, I
need not observe how necessary it is to obey the orders of a superior.
We are members of the volunteer corps of this town, our name is
Schlatter, and we are brothers of the commandant’s secretary, chosen on
purpose to reconduct you into France, lest you might be ill-treated by
soldiers of the line.” I told him they were excessively kind, and
desired them to proceed and do their duty; and added that what I
suffered was no dishonour to me, for the efforts I had made had been for
the sake of serving my country, and I gloried in them. The commandant’s
secretary now joined the party, and expressed his satisfaction at his
brothers being appointed to escort me. I pointed out to him the cruelty
of putting so enormous a chain upon any human creature. He replied, “You
have so often escaped, sir, even from the _gendarmerie_ of France, and
these are volunteers only, that the commandant thinks chaining you very
necessary, and we have no small chains. There is a carriage ordered for
your conveyance, and consequently the inconvenience will not be so very

A little more palaver followed. I talked of the dishonour and
indignities inflicted upon an officer, and poured forth all the torrents
of eloquence I could call to my aid; but everything was in vain, the
phlegmatic German stuck to his text of the chains; and accordingly my
right arm and left leg were chained together, and the ends were securely
fastened by a huge and clumsy padlock proportioned to the links of the
chain, and both seemed proportioned to the limbs of a Goliath or
Hercules. I was now carried to the gaol door, and putting my head
outside to take a gasp of fresh air, to which I had been so long a
stranger, I beheld an immense concourse of people assembled, to catch a
sight of the unfortunate prisoner whom the commandant had thought proper
thus twice or triply to secure. The wondering crowd came to view what
they thought a monster; for such reports had been spread of my
miraculous escapes, and such exaggerated and fabulous accounts had been
given of what I had achieved, that the ignorant populace believed that I
was some demon, or at least a magician in disguise.

At last the hour of my departure arrived. I took my adieu of my gaoler,
who had not exceeded his office; and then I took a most affectionate
leave of the old woman, who was crying the whole time, and parted from
me as if I had been her son whom she was never to see again. I frankly
own that I was deeply affected at the poor simple old creature’s
kindness. There are cases in which neither old age nor the gaol can
harden the heart.

My guards lifted me into the carriage, and one of them sat on each side,
for they seemed to think that I might yet try to escape--as if the
ponderous chains and huge padlock had been silken bands fastened by some
true-lover’s knot. “God bless you!” cried the gaoler’s kind old wife,
bathed in tears. “God bless you, kind old mother!” I replied. “Drive
on!” roared the guard to the postilion. Whack went the heavy whip over
the shoulders of both horses, and away went our carriage, rattling over
the stones. In every street through which we passed, the windows were
crowded with spectators, all wishing my guards a safe return, as if they
either thought that they were bound to the most remote corner of the
globe, or that they were in the company of some wizard that might play
them an awkward trick on the road. The guards themselves seemed little
at their ease; for although I was so heavily secured, they loaded their
rifles, primed them, and looked significantly at me--a hint of what I
might expect if I became restive.

Although, as I have already observed, one of my guards spoke French,
such was the depressed state of my spirits that I entered into little or
no conversation with him. Sometimes, indeed, I asked him a question
respecting his country, but it was only for the sake of dry information
that I might hereafter turn to advantage. Each question was drily put
and as drily answered, and thus did my journey proceed.

At midnight we halted in a walled town, the name of which my guards
concealed from me,[21] and I was so well watched that I could not ask
the question, immaterial as it was, of anybody else. I, however, was
civilly informed that I might go to bed here for two hours, and I as
civilly or satirically replied, “That a bed was no comfort to a man
encumbered with heavy chains and a ponderous padlock.” If I were
rational in nothing else, I was deemed rational in this; and accordingly
I was unpadlocked, unchained, and unmanacled, and allowed to go to bed;
but so dangerous a character was I thought, that two police officers, in
addition to my two guards, were stationed in my chamber to keep watch
over me whilst I slumbered or lay in bed, seating themselves one on each
side of it. I need scarcely observe that I could not sleep. If an eye
were closed that night, it must have been in the head of one of my
guards or in that of one of their assistants.

The time elapsed, and glad was I at the coming of the cold, damp dawn. I
was again chained, and we were placed in another vehicle, and I
discovered they were taking a more northerly direction towards
Strasbourg. We had three relays before four in the afternoon, when we
arrived at Tütlingen, a small open town in Würtemberg,[22] and stopped,
as usual, at the post-house, which was also a tavern. We found a number
of very genteel people there. I attracted, of course, the notice of
everybody; they appeared desirous and anxious to serve me, and
reprobated very much the conduct of the Bavarians for using a British
officer with such cruelty. I was in great hopes of staying here all
night, as there was at first a difficulty in procuring a carriage.
However, the Bavarians did not deem this prudent, and they got a common
waggon, which was filled with straw, and placed me in the centre between
them. They were not wrong in doing so, for had I remained there that
night I certainly should have been rescued.

At midnight we changed our waggon at Rothweil. At dawn we again changed;
and at four in the afternoon we passed through Gegenbach; and about
midnight arrived at Offenburg, a fortified town in Baden, and only five
or six leagues from Strasbourg. Here we went to bed, my guards having
first placed their bedsteads on each side of mine.

My mind was too much occupied with the misery that awaited me to admit
of sleep. The dungeons, in which I was perhaps inevitably doomed to drag
out a miserable existence, appeared to my imagination with all their
horrors. Bitche was the place that had been originally allotted for me,
and I was of opinion, from the different accounts that I had received of
this wretched place, that a prisoner’s life was prolonged, only to make
his punishment the greater. My depression of spirits became extreme; and
even my guards greatly commiserated my distress, and frequently
expressed their regret at its being their lot to deliver me again into
the hands of my enemies.

In justice to these, my conductors, I must say that they used their
authority with as much mercy as possible. They anticipated as well as
they could all my wants; and, in fact, in every respect they made me as
comfortable as possible under our relative circumstances and positions.
When I reflect on these and many similar facts, and, above all, when I
reflect on the kind old wife of the gaoler of Lindau, I am bound to say
that I found the Germans generally honest and kind-hearted, and the
females of that country particularly so.

At eight the next morning we quitted Offenburg for Strasbourg, and at
eleven we breakfasted at Kehl. This was our last stage, and here we
procured our last change of horses. We crossed the bridge at one, and
were most strictly searched by custom-house officers. All they found
upon me was the heavy chains and the as heavy padlock. Would to heavens
they had deemed those contraband goods, and had deprived me of them!
These fellows, as well as the sentries, were enraged when I told them
that they had not been so very particular a few mornings before, when I
had passed the bridge without their deigning to speak to me. I put the
latter into a most furious passion when I quizzed them upon their
muffling themselves up in their warm cloaks, and keeping themselves in
their sentry-boxes, whilst I was slipping by them amidst the cattle. How
mad they were!--but the joke now was all against myself, for in
half-an-hour I found myself securely lodged in the military gaol of
Strasbourg. Thus ended all my hopes.

The keeper of this prison was, thank God, excessively civil and kind;
and civility and kindness are by no means common qualities amongst the
gaolers of this most civilised and polite nation. He showed me into an
apartment where there was a tolerably good bed, and even asked me if I
wished to have a fire. A good fire in a damp room of a gaol, on a
bitterly frosty day of December, was certainly a great addition to a
poor prisoner’s comforts, and I frankly replied that there was nothing,
under his roof at least, that I should like so much to see as a blazing
hearth; but I as honestly added that I had not one farthing to pay for
it. The little money that I had possessed had been almost all spent by
the Bavarians in getting me a shirt and a pair of stockings, and I saw
them give the remainder, which was a mere trifle, to the French
_gendarmes_ when they handed me over to their custody. “In that case,”
replied the feeling gaoler, “you shall go to my apartment and warm
yourself, and you shall want for nothing that I can help you to.” This
was a very different reception from what I had anticipated. It is
astonishing what an effect kindness has upon the heart, and especially
upon the heart of the afflicted and miserable. This man’s charity quite
disarmed me from any thoughts of escape. Nothing could have induced me,
by any misconduct, to have brought so good a man under rebuke or
punishment from the authorities above him.

Shivering with cold, I left my dark, damp room, and soon found myself in
a very comfortable apartment, and my eyes were greeted with the sight of
a blazing fire, whilst the crackling of the burning logs “discoursed
sweet music to my ears.”

My frank and charitable Samaritan soon gave me a reason why the
benevolence of his nature was now poured forth so cordially towards me.
He was an old soldier, and had twice been made a prisoner by the English
during the last war. He had been captured up the Mediterranean, and on
both occasions the English, he said, had treated him kindly; and he
conceived that he was only paying off a debt of gratitude in availing
himself of an opportunity to be kind to an English officer in distress.
Never was logic more conclusive to my mind, or never did a debtor and
creditor account of favours received and returned sound more
delightfully to my ears.

He introduced me to his wife, a German woman, who insisted on my taking
a seat near the fire; and the frank, hospitable creature seemed to vie
with her husband in mitigating my sufferings. After the very many hours
I had been almost perishing with the cold, and cramped and numbed with
my chains, I need not say how comfortable I found myself. I supped with
my worthy host and hostess, and next day I breakfasted and dined at
their table.

This day the lieutenant of the _gendarmerie_ of the Strasbourg district,
with another officer, came to interrogate me with respect to my escape,
the direction I had taken, and all the other circumstances of my flight.
I was frank and communicative, and they both were very much astonished
at the sufferings I had endured, and expressed their wonder at my having
been able to cross the bridge of Kehl without detection. They informed
me, to my grief, that Bitche was the place of my destination; and that
at daylight the next morning I should be escorted to that fortress, in
company with eleven Corsican soldiers who had lately deserted from their
regiment at Deuxponts, carrying with them their arms, accoutrements, and
knapsacks. These unfortunate fellows, they added, were all to be shot. I
must confess that I by no means liked to travel in such company; but my
informants assured me, that although they were sensible of the
indignity, and sorry for it, it was out of their power to prevent it,
and that I must submit with patience to my fate. I had only to express
my resignation with the best grace I could assume.

The gaoler, being well aware of what sort of dungeons I should be placed
in during my journey to Bitche, told me he had received only nine
livres--about seven shillings and sixpence sterling,--which was all that
had been handed over to the _gendarmes_ as my property by the Bavarians;
and as my funds were so very low he would demand only two shillings and
sixpence for everything I had received at his table; and he gave the
remainder of my money to my guard, to advance as I might have occasion
for it. I felt grateful for this man’s generosity and disinterestedness.
His was, indeed, the most reasonable bill I ever had paid in France, and
I requested he would take more, as I was certain it must be in
consequence of my reduced finances that his demands were so moderate;
however, he resolutely refused, so I took my leave of him and his
wife,[23] and got into my place, which was by the eleventh Corsican’s
side, to whom I was chained and handcuffed, whilst another chain was
also passed through the whole of the party, which completely linked us
all together. About noon our guards were changed. The brigade that now
escorted us consisted of the most cruel scoundrels I ever beheld. They
placed the chain round my neck, under my handkerchief; and on my
observing to them that it must certainly be their design to strangle me
by putting the chain on so tight, they took in another link, d----d me
for a rascally Englishman, and clapped on an immense padlock, which was
dangling as an ornament under my chin the whole way; they afterwards
screwed on my handcuffs until the skin was literally twisted off the
wrists. They knew my name perfectly, and that I had lately escaped from
my guards.

At night we arrived at Hagenau gaol, and the next morning at daylight
went on our way. We were placed in the same order, with this
exception--the chain was passed over the shoulder and under the arm,
like a soldier’s belt, instead of round the neck. At about five in the
afternoon we arrived at an open town, Niederbronn. The cold was very
intense--snowing hard all day. For our comfort, we were put into one of
the most filthy dungeons that ever mortal beheld, with scarcely room to
turn round, and only a small hole in the door to admit air. The
Corsicans appeared to feel a great deal for my situation; and observed,
“that they ought not to complain, when _a British officer was used in so
horrid a manner_.” They were permitted to go out of the dungeon to get
some refreshments, which the charitable inhabitants sent them; but the
_sacré Anglais_ was not suffered to move; and I had great difficulty to
procure a morsel of food, which was handed me through the air-hole, and
for which they charged double price. This air-hole was so small, and
there was such an abominable smell, that I never expected to survive it.
Two of these unfortunate wretches were seized with an illness, a sort of
cholera, which continued the whole night, and added greatly to the
_mauvaise odeur_ we already had. I never passed a more dreadful night.
At last the cheering moment arrived, which was announced by the usual
sounds--rattling of keys, creaking of doors, bolts, etc. A _gendarme_
presented himself, and, with a gruff, overbearing voice, desired us to
prepare for our march. He had very little difficulty in getting this
summons obeyed; but he told us we must first of all clean out our cell!
“Where is the Englishman?” roared the brute; “let him do that part by
himself!” I was full of disgust and indignation; and advancing boldly
towards him, I resolutely told him that I would not. The fellow was
getting into a furious rage, and I doubted not but that the consequences
would have been serious to me, when, fortunately, the soldiers
interfered, and said that as they had caused the evil, it was but just
that they should clear out the cell. This done, we proceeded on our
journey, in the manner of the preceding day.

The two sick soldiers, though the poor wretches looked extremely ill,
were not exempted from their chains and fetters, although the weather
was excessively inclement, and the heavy snow was drifted in our faces
by a fierce and hard wind. They were evidently in a high state of fever,
and wherever they saw a frozen rivulet they entreated that they might be
allowed to halt, to procure either ice or water; but the flinty-hearted
brutes were deaf to all supplication, and the wretched sufferers were
obliged to eat handfuls of snow in order to allay their raging thirst.
The cruel, savage behaviour of these guards exceeded everything I had
witnessed; and yet I had seen and experienced enough to make nature
shudder. They also accused the poor wretches of being traitors to their
countryman, Napoleon.

At about noon, on the 21st of December 1807, the high turrets and
massive towers of the gloomy fortress in which I was going to be
incarcerated presented themselves to my sight. Their very appearance was
sufficient to strike the mind with horror; and I cannot but believe that
the engineer had this object in view when he gave such outward forms to
his structure. The prospect of being shut up in that detestable
fortress, perhaps for the remainder of my days, could only be relieved
by the probability that my length of life would be shortened by the
nature of my imprisonment. Death itself was preferable to protracted
persecution, and I sometimes devoutly wished to be at rest. In this
train of thought and feeling I proceeded; and so absorbed was I by my
affliction, that I was almost unconscious of any objects or
circumstances around me, until I was roughly awakened from my stupor and
found myself in the centre of the fortress of Bitche.


     Conjectures of the prisoners as to my country and
     crimes--Inferences from my chains that I had committed murder--Mr.
     Ashworth and Mr. Tuthill, with Mr. Baker, rejoin me--Lieutenant
     Essel dashed to pieces in attempting to descend the ramparts of
     Bitche--My grief at his death--The immense height of the
     ramparts--My horrible dungeon--Its revolting state of
     filth--Interview with the commandant--An application to be allowed
     to take the air granted for two hours a day--Meditations upon an
     escape--Our efforts baffled--A Christmas night in a
     dungeon--Reminiscences of home and friends--A sentinel firing on
     his prisoners--I am removed to a cell with fifty prisoners--Again
     removed to a higher cell with only twelve--Improved condition--Hear
     of a scheme of the prisoners below to effect their escape--Contrive
     to join them--Stratagem to drown the noise of
     working-tools--Successful undermining--Noise in opening the third
     door--Sentinels alarmed--The guards enter--Search, and discover our
     engineering--Fury of the French officers--Mr. Brine, answering to
     the name of O’Brien, is captured instead of me--I escape from the
     dungeon and regain my own cell--Feign illness, and avoid suspicion.

As soon as I could collect my scattered senses and compose my distracted
mind, I found that I was stared at from all sides by my unhappy
countrymen, who at that moment happened to be out of their
_souterrains_, on their permission to take those few gasps of fresh air
that were essential to their being able to exist for the rest of the day
in their noxious dungeons. I could hear some of these poor fellows
questioning whether I was a British subject. “He must have been at the
head of some banditti!” said one. “He looks like it,” observed another.
“Perhaps,” remarked a third, “he is the captain of the soldiers he is
chained to.” “Very likely,” rejoined another. “At all events,” said a
fifth, “whether he is an Englishmen or a foreigner, it is clear he is
not a prisoner of war, for they never would load a prisoner of war of
any nation so heavily with chains.” In this opinion, and in this alone,
did they all agree; and I was set down by universal consent as some
daring criminal that had committed one, or even a host of atrocious
crimes. At length some of my old friends saw and recognised me. “Good
heavens!” exclaimed one, “it is our old friend O’Brien.” “But why such
chains, and with such a gang?” was the reply. None dared approach to ask
a question; and, as I afterwards found, the general inference was, that,
in my attempt to escape, I had killed some officer or soldier who had
opposed me, and that I was led here thus secured preparatory to my trial
and execution for murder.

But it was not many minutes before my old friends and companions,
Ashworth and Tuthill, found means to get at me.

I was never more thunderstruck in my life, for I had flattered myself
that they had effected their escape, and had been happy in the thought,
which had worked itself into my mind as a fact, that they had arrived
safely in England. Mr. Baker, of the merchant service, and in a short
time all my old companions, surrounded me, except poor Lieutenant Essel;
and on my anxiously inquiring for him, to my great grief was I informed
that he had been dashed to pieces in endeavouring to get over the walls,
in a fresh attempt to escape. Mr. Ashworth and Tuthill told me that
they had been arrested or recaptured about two hours after they had
parted from me in the wood. It had, in fact, been so suddenly surrounded
by soldiers and peasantry that it was impossible to escape from it. They
added that they never had been able to account for my getting clear. The
other prisoners had not taken advantage of the diversion we had made in
their favour, but had remained in the waggon.

The melancholy intelligence of my poor fellow-sufferer Essel’s violent
death was an additional pang to my misfortunes and anguish. I was
anxiously asking the particulars, when the guard came up, and angrily
drove my friends to their respective dungeons for daring to communicate
with me. I, with the Corsicans, was most unceremoniously conducted to a
different part of the fortress, called La Grosse Tête.

I shall not attempt to describe the fortress of Bitche. To give a minute
detail of its strength, _souterrains_, etc., would fill a volume. At
this moment it is sufficient for me to say that it is reckoned one of
the strongest fortifications of France, and is built on the summit of an
immensely high rock, out of which all its subterranean caves are
hollowed. It has, on one side, three ramparts. The first is from 90 to
100 feet high; the second, from 40 to 50; and the third, from 25 to 30,
with redoubts, entrenchments, and all contrivances of military
engineering, almost innumerable.[24] As I surveyed these stupendous
heights and depths, it appeared to me a physical impossibility to
escape from it, and I was filled with despair. Nothing but madness could
entertain a thought of attempting to escape. Being now arrived at the
wretched dungeon I was to inhabit, my handcuffs and chains were taken
off, and the Corsican deserters were conducted to the condemned cells.
They were, I believe, soon afterwards shot. A dismal dungeon was
unlocked, in which it seemed that I was doomed to be entombed alive.
Solitude appeared to me dreadful, and I looked upon a “living death” as
my final lot; but I found in the dungeon Mr. Worth, midshipman, and a
Captain Brine of the merchant service. The latter was one of those who
came from Verdun with me. They were on a door, which they had managed to
unhinge, and which lay as a platform to keep them out of the excrement
and wet, that were more than ankle deep: they had a little straw and a
blanket. They informed me, they had been companions of the unfortunate
Essel in the late attempt to get over the ramparts. Six of them had
broken out of their cave, had got a rope made of sheets, and were on the
point of lowering themselves down, when they were discovered and the
alarm given, which made four of them clap on the rope together, though
only strong enough to lower one at a time, or two at most; the rope, in
consequence, broke. One was dashed to pieces, and the three others--I
think their names were Nason, Potts, and Adams--so severely mangled and
bruised that little hopes were at first entertained of their recovery;
Worth and Brine were soon seized by the guards on the embrasure. The
others were then improving fast, and they expected them in the dungeon
in a few days, as soon as the surgeon had reported them well enough;
after which they would have to remain in this receptacle of filth for
thirty-one days, which was the usual time of being buried alive in the
first and most horrible gradation of our captivity. It was fifty deep
stone steps under ground, for I have often counted them, and the most
dark and intricate passages led from it to the gaoler’s house, who had
the watching and superintending of the prisoners, in conjunction with a

I had not been more than half-an-hour in this dismal and filthy abode,
when a _gendarme_ came, and desired _le nouveau arrivé_ to follow him. I
imagined it was to liberate me (that is to say, from this dungeon), and
to place me with my companions, Messrs. Ashworth and Tuthill, in one of
the caves, which was deemed a kind of indulgence, they having a bed and
fire allowed in the latter; but I was greatly in error.

I followed my guide through all the before-mentioned passages, and at
last arrived at the gaoler’s house; where I was accosted, in the
following words, by a man who wore a leathern cap and frock-coat:--

“You, sir, are the person who has given us so much trouble, and been the
cause of the _gendarmes_ having been transported to the galleys.”

“Not to my knowledge.”

“You are, sir, and merit the greatest severity that can be inflicted.”

This induced me to request to be informed what he meant.

“I mean, sir,” revociferated he, “that you deserve the severest
punishment, for not resting quietly with your guards, and for being
accessory to the punishment of them.”

I replied, “I was conscious that I had only done my duty in endeavouring
to escape from slavery, tyranny, and oppression, and every other cruelty
that could be invented.”

I showed him the marks I then had on my wrists and different parts of my
body, expressing very warmly at the same time my detestation of a
country that could countenance such treatment.

“Pray,” said he, “do you know who you are thus accosting?”

“I really do not.”

“Then, sir, I would have you to know, that I am commandant over all the
prisoners confined in this fort; that I have very great power invested
in me, and could place you, in a moment, where you would never be seen
or heard of.”

I replied, “That I was not aware he was commandant--I had not the
smallest doubt with regard to his power--was far from having a wish to
give him the least offence--that I was entirely in his power--he could
therefore act by me as he thought proper.”

He listened with great attention; became quite soft and mild; was
extremely sorry, but could not avoid punishing me. He accordingly
ordered me to be conducted back to the dungeon I had just left. My
companions procured me something to eat; and I absolutely felt happy,
although in so miserable a place, at being with my own countrymen: I had
nothing now to fear but the guillotine, or slavery in the galleys.

Thus, my mind being a little at ease, and my spirits somewhat recruited,
I gathered together a few of the scattered straws, laid myself down on
the platform that had been contrived by my comrades in adversity, and
fell fast asleep. When I awoke, the night was far advanced. My
companions, by some means or other, had procured a flint, tinder-box,
and candle, and we struck a light. They were anxious to have an account
of my adventures, with which I indulged them, and they in return
narrated to me their misfortunes and sufferings. In this manner did I
pass my first night in this horrible dungeon.

There were three, and but three, livres of my money still remaining, and
with this, by dint of bribery, we procured some brandy from the gaoler.
This stimulus we found very necessary, for the effluvium from this
noxious and pestiferous place was as strong, and almost as offensive, as
that of the last dungeon at Niederbronn, in which I had been confined
with the Corsican soldiers. We had recourse also to smoking tobacco,
which to a great degree mitigated the effects of the fetidity of this
revolting place, although it made me very sick. I now received secret
intelligence, that a Madame B--l--a--d, in the little town of Bitche,
had lately received, through the medium of my worthy friend, the Rev.
Launcelot C. Lee, an order to supply my pecuniary wants to a certain
extent; and I need not say how much this considerate and humane act of
generosity and kindness had exhilarated my drooping spirits.

I could not help expressing to my comrades my astonishment at the
immense strength and security of our dungeons. They surpassed anything I
had ever seen, or anything I had ever formed an idea of; and it seemed
to me wonderful how men could ever imagine and construct such places for
the torment and slow destruction of their fellow-creatures.

It was some time the next day before we could obtain anything whatever
to recruit exhausted nature, although our cries on the gaoler’s name, La
Roche, had been re-echoed a thousand times from the bottom of our cell.
We had taken it by turns to call out, but all of us were nearly worn
out, when the fellow came to the bars of the small hole that admitted
air; and after soliciting and praying, flattering and appealing, to all
his good qualities (Heaven forgive us for our hypocrisy!), the rogue
agreed to give us some refreshment. This he passed through the triple
bars of the hole, as he was not entrusted with the keys of the door, and
whatever he brought we eagerly devoured.

I inquired of my companions if they were never permitted to breathe
fresh air; and, to my sorrow, they replied that as yet they had never
enjoyed that indulgence. It appeared to me an impossibility to exist
many days in such a place without it. I told my fellow-sufferers that I
thought it would be advisable to solicit the indulgence by a joint
letter to the commandant, stating our situation--at the same time
requesting immediate death, if it were his intention to deprive us of
health, and so cause us to linger away, and terminate a miserable
existence by degrees.

This application had the desired effect, and we were allowed to breathe
the air every day, between the hours of eleven and one. On this the
first day, whilst respiring the air, which proved to us a relief beyond
expression, I was informed by one of the _gendarmes_, that on the day
after I had escaped, their commanding officer had issued strict orders
to the men of his corps, who had been despatched to scour the woods and
the country in search of me, that, in the event of their _finding_ me,
they were to scar and disfigure me with their sabres _au front et au
visage_, and to mutilate me in such a manner as would prove an example
to deter, in future, any British prisoner of war from attempting to
escape. This circumstance I heard frequently repeated afterwards by
others of the same corps.

Upon my putting the question to them, whether, in the event of falling
in with me, they would have actually put in execution those injunctions,
some made an evasive reply and hesitated; while others, more candid,
acknowledged that they would have been obliged to obey their orders _à
la lettre_,--and that, of course, they would have been directed to
state, in justification of such conduct, that they had no alternative,
as I would not surrender, but resisted most desperately. No entreaty
whatever could procure us any more cleanliness. We were literally worse
off than pigs or dogs.

We now again began to devise and meditate upon plans for escaping. One
proposed undermining the dungeon. I saw no prospect whatever of
succeeding in this point. I, however, was willing to try every means to
regain my liberty. Hammers and chisels with great difficulty were
procured, and we carried them always about us, as the dungeon was
ransacked every day in our absence. We hung an old coat up against that
part of the rock which we intended to begin upon. Rope was necessary to
descend the ramparts after we had got out of the dungeon; we
accordingly, through some friends, who had obtained permission to come
and see us, contrived to purchase some stout linen for shirts (which we
really much wanted), and from the shoemakers amongst the prisoners we
got, now and then, a ball of twine. We procured needles, bees’-wax,
etc., by degrees, and made a rope of four or five fathoms for each,
which we _marled_ with the remainder of the twine, and passed tight
round our bodies underneath the shirt. Our working time commenced
immediately on being locked up after breathing the fresh air. Night
would not do, as it would be necessary to have candle-light, and we
might have been seen through the bars by our sentinels.

The undermining business was found impracticable, and was consequently
dropped. Having a rope, we flattered ourselves we might, some day whilst
allowed to breathe the fresh air, be able to elude the vigilance of the
sentinels and scale the walls. However, this proved to be a plan so
difficult to accomplish that it was abandoned, and our only hope was
that we might have an opportunity of using the rope when we should be
liberated from our present dungeon and placed in another _souterrain_ or
apartment of the fortress.

Christmas night came, but without either Christmas cheer, etc., or
cheerfulness. We were reflecting upon our miseries without anything to
soothe them. The tune of “Oh, the roast beef of Old England!” would
occur to us, and visionary plum-puddings and rich sirloins would torment
the imagination. All the hospitality, mirth, and good-heartedness that
are displayed in our native isles on this festivity were vividly before
us in recollections. “_Nessun maggior dolor che ricordarsi del tempo
felice nella miseria_,” was now fully verified. Intense thought and
intense feelings overcame the frame, and I at length fell into a
profound sleep. In a short time I was suddenly roused by my friends and
violently dragged into a corner of my cell. Upon my inquiring what this
meant, I was informed that the sentinel had burnt priming through the
bars at Mr. Worth, and had snapped his musket again before I was
apprised of it; if it had gone off, the ball must have passed through my
body, as I was point-blank opposite the bars. The fellow had desired Mr.
Worth to put his candle out, and he had refused, upon which the
unfeeling wretch (perhaps intoxicated), without saying a word more, had
twice snapped his piece at him--a summary method of enforcing orders. We
soon placed ourselves where he could not hit us, even if his musket
should go off. The candle was still burning, and this fiery though
non-firing sentinel was obliged to turn suppliant, and to beg us to put
it out. All the time of his supplication he kept his piece levelled at
the candle. We had had an abundance of experience with reference to the
character of such rascals, and carefully kept out of his way. At
midnight he was relieved, and we made known his conduct to the corporal
of the guard, who rebuked him severely, and gave us permission to keep
our candle burning. What was the harm? We could hatch no treasons, and
contrive no stratagems, by a rushlight; nor were we in danger of setting
fire to a damp, vaulted, stone dungeon.

This fellow’s conduct, however, had been so outrageous that we
determined to report him to the commandant the next day, and we
endeavoured to compose ourselves for the remainder of the night,
thanking Providence that, by his musket missing fire, we had escaped his
murderous intentions.

Accordingly, during the time we were out, I made what had happened known
to the _maréchal de logis_, Monsieur Mitchell, who was second in
command. I pointed out to him the inhumanity of this wretch, in
endeavouring to deprive poor prisoners of war of their lives, who had
been placed already in the most horrible state imaginable, for having an
inch of candle burning on Christmas night. He replied with a vast deal
of _sangfroid_, “But his piece did not go off; none of you were hurt;
and where is the use of taking any more notice of it?”

_23rd January 1808._--We were, at length, conducted from the dungeon to
a miserable hole under ground, to which I descended by thirty steep
stone steps, where Messrs. Tuthill and Ashworth, with fifty of our
countrymen, were already buried alive. Here I remained, planning and
scheming everything possible to effect my escape, but in vain. I,
however, wore the rope constantly round me; yet the guards were so
watchful that I had very little hopes of ever being able to make the
intended use of it.

This continued during the months of February, March, April, May, and
June; at the expiration of which the commandant had the kindness to
allow me to go up into a small room, where there were already twelve
more. This indulgence, he had the courtesy to say, was in consequence of
my good conduct. Messrs. Tuthill, Ashworth, and Brine were of the
number. The latter wore his rope as I did, and was the only person of
the party, then in the room, who knew I had one. We became daily more
intimate from this confidence in each other; and after a vast number of
fruitless endeavours, on the 17th of July 1808 the term of our slavery
appeared to be drawing to a conclusion: I was on that day told in
confidence by one of the seamen--a young Irishman, whose name I
forget--that a party had thoughts of breaking out that night from the
_souterrain_; that he was one of them; and he informed me who the rest
were. I began to regret having ever left the cave. However, I imagined
there was a probability of getting down to them for the night. I
accordingly waited upon the heads of this party during their time for
breathing the air, and, without intimating my motives, I requested that
they would allow me to visit them in the cave, or _souterrain_, that
evening. They stared, and the oddness of the request made them suspect
that I had a knowledge of their designs. Knowing their complete
confidence in me, I did not hesitate to tell them the truth. With
everything complimentary in their opinions of me, they still refused to
comply with my request; for they assured me that they could not deviate
from their fixed plan, and that was, that none of those upstairs were to
be admitted below. The motive of this was a dread to excite suspicion,
for it was necessary to obtain permission from the _maréchal de logis_
for us to go to the lower cell, and even asking it might put the
authorities on the _qui vive_. Greatly did I feel mortified at my
exclusion from the enterprise. At the usual hour, six in the evening,
they were made to descend, in order to be locked up, but as they went
below I told them that I did not despair of joining them that evening.
After their doors had been locked, I had observed that it was the habit
of the _maréchal de logis_ to quit the fortress for some time, and this
night I anxiously watched his departure. At about half-past six I saw
him go out; at seven it was our turn to be locked up. The interval was
to me momentous--no time was to be lost. Never was I in a greater state
of anxiety. At last I went boldly up to the _gendarme_ on guard, whose
name was Buché, and told him that I had been invited to celebrate the
anniversary of an old friend’s birth-night in the _souterrain_, and
that he would oblige me greatly by allowing me to descend. He hesitated.
“Nay, my kind Monsieur Buché,” I said most civilly, “what apprehensions
can you possibly be under? Am I not by far more secure in the
_souterrain_ than in the cell upstairs?” This well-timed observation
satisfied him, and I received his permission to descend.

I immediately apprised Messrs. Tuthill, Brine, and Ashworth, of my
success, when they also persuaded the guard to let them join in
celebrating the birth-night. I was afraid that their application would
create suspicion, and prevent even my joining the party; but I was glad
to find that the very reverse was the case. My celebrity for stratagems
in effecting escapes was unhappily so great that any request I might
make immediately conjured up a host of confused suspicions; but when
poor Monsieur Buché found so many wishing to celebrate the birth-night,
he concluded that there really was a birth-night to celebrate, although
it might have struck a more sapient brain that it was rather an
absurdity for men to celebrate anything who had scarcely sufficient food
to put in their mouths.

However, it was not our business to be too curious, and I descended with
my companions. As we approached the cave, my ears were struck with the
din of merriment, which was artfully assumed in order to prevent the
sentinels hearing the noise of chisels, saws, and other tools, that I
concluded were hard at work. Some were singing or shouting, others
dancing, others were making their dogs howl and bark, and by no gentle
means; and the deception was so admirably kept up that the gaoler and
guards might have supposed that there was a boisterous saturnalia
celebrating amongst their prisoners. Before seven we were in the midst
of these “merry fellows,” and our guard locked us all in together,
laughing that we English could make ourselves so happy upon little or
nothing. We had taken a few necessaries with us for the night, which
could not be observed, in our pockets.

Our friends received us with open arms, and admired our perseverance. I
found they were getting on rapidly; the miners were very active. One
door was already forced. The second door was an immense iron one; it was
impossible to break through it; the miners had therefore worked away the
earth and rock under it. It was half-past ten before we got a hole large
enough for a small man to creep through, which enabled him to force the
bolts and bars at the opposite side and to open the door. This man,
whose name was Daly, was afterwards a navy agent, and lived at
Greenwich: he escaped from Verdun with, I believe, Dr. Clarke, and
landed safely in England. The principal obstacles were now removed in
every one’s opinion, and there remained but two slight doors more to
impede our advancing to a subterraneous passage that led out of the
fort. This was a very intricate communication, and we had to feel our
way to those slight doors, as it was dangerous to have candle-light.

Some unfortunate English prisoners, owing to treachery amongst
themselves, had been sabred in the same passage years before, in a vain
attempt to escape during the night. How valuable would a dark-lanthorn
have been now! Everybody, except the few that were appointed to force
the doors, were preparing for their escape. It was nearly midnight. Our
over-eagerness in forcing the third door shot the bolt back, which
caused a noise that was overheard by the sentinels outside. This
occasioned a general alarm to be instantly beat--all hopes were at an
end. “What unfortunate wretches!” were the only words that could be
heard, everybody endeavouring to get to his respective place before the
guards entered. Those who were all over dirt tried to strip and hide
their clothes; the confusion was great in all parts of the cave; the
running against one another, mistaking each other’s beds, and clothes,
etc., was quite ludicrous. The visitors were, of all others, worst off:
their friends, whom they came to spend the evening with, had no beds to
offer them. The doors were now opening, the guards entering, and I, who
was all over dirt, was rambling about without being able to find any
place to creep into. By accident I stumbled over a bed, and I instantly
crawled under the blankets, with my boots and all my clothes on. The
guards passed close by me, even before I had settled myself; but they
were too intent upon reaching the spot from whence they imagined they
had heard the noise. In our cave, at this time, everything was silent.
You might have heard a pin drop. Every prisoner seemed fast asleep, and
one or two were even snoring. By the guard’s light, as they passed, I
found that I had got into the bed of a servant, an American named
Clarke. He was so intolerably intoxicated (they managed that night to
get some _snique_, or brandy, smuggled in) that I was a long time before
I could rouse him; and when he was awake, I had as much difficulty in
making him understand who I was, and why I had got into his bed. I
dreaded lest the stupefied fellow might utter some ejaculation that
might expose everything. Fortunately, however, as soon as he was able to
understand what I said, he desired me to cover my face, and assisted me
to conceal myself as well as he could. It afterwards appeared that he
had gone to bed fully aware of the part he was to play the next morning,
and that he had got a little drunk to give him courage for his
enterprise; and as in drunkenness a little always leads to more, he had
at last got very drunk, under the delusion that he would recover himself
before the time of decamping arrived. This is the common self-deception,
I believe, of all incipient drunkards.

On discovering that the first door had been opened, the commanding
officer of the searching party said, with a sneer, “That he would give
us weeks to get through the next;” meaning the ponderous, massive iron
door which I have already described. On advancing a few paces, one of
the guards proclaimed, with a horrid oath, that even the iron door had
been forced. This put the officer in a furious passion, and he swore
outrageously against the “_sacrés coquins, les Anglais_,” uttering a
tirade of oaths upon his resolution to discover the chiefs of such a
horrible conspiracy. “Where are the visitors?” cried he, in a furious
voice. “Where are those who, I understand, prevailed on the _gendarmes_
to be admitted to the cell? They must be the authors of this horrible
business, or complot.”

Passion is never rational, or it would have taught this officer that
those who had been admitted as visitors for only one evening could not
have been the authors of a plot that must have been in active operation
for many days, or weeks, or even months.

The infuriated officer called over the muster-roll of the visitors, and
Tuthill, Ashworth, and O’Brien resounded from his angry lungs. I was too
old a sailor to notice the first call. The first two officers were so
indiscreet as to answer. They thought that as they were stripped and in
bed they could escape suspicion. But far different was the result. They
were ordered to get up, put on their clothes, and, under very rough
usage, they were about to be conducted to what had been my former
habitation--the dungeon. Again did the enraged officer repeat my
name--O’Brien. Poor Mr. Brine answered to the call; and he was, without
ceremony, ordered to dress, and compelled to join the other two. Again
did the name of O’Brien resound from the lips of the enraged officer;
but Mr. O’Brien had no more inclination to answer to the call than he
had had at first. The drunken servant had sufficiently recovered himself
to understand the whole scene, and he played his part with great tact. I
remained under the bed-clothes, whilst he sat up with his knees so
raised as to prevent the possibility of discovering me. He protested
that he was alone in bed; and appearances favouring his assertion, the
guards did not trouble him, but passed on to the next bed. For my part,
I saw no prospect of escaping, as the searchers were well aware of my
being below, and I was frequently on the point of jumping up and joining
my comrades, who were now put on march for the dungeon. The intoxicated
servant shrewdly observed, “That it would be time enough to join that
party when I was discovered, and that I ought to wait patiently the
result.” I found a good deal of reason in what he said, and remained
quiet. There were three or four more ringleaders (as they called them)
discovered by the clay and soil found about their garments, and the
whole were escorted to the direful dungeon. The doors were then locked,
sentinels being placed on those that had been broken open. I expected
that the guards would return to search for another set of ringleaders,
and I remained full of anxiety waiting their arrival. In the meantime, I
was of opinion that it would be as well to take my boots and clothes
off. I accordingly stripped, and concealed those that were full of earth
and dirt in different parts of the _souterrain_. Some time elapsed, yet
no return of the guards disturbed me. I composed myself as well as I
could: my bedfellow left me in full possession, and I fell into a
profound sleep.

When I awoke it was daylight. The usual hour for allowing the prisoners
to breathe the fresh air had arrived; but the doors were not opened as
before: and they were soon informed that they would be kept locked down,
until they thought proper to deliver up the names of all those who had
intended to escape on the preceding night. The prisoners laughed at such
a proposition, since there was nothing more certain than that all who
had been capable of walking would have embraced so excellent an
opportunity of regaining their liberty. On second consideration, it was
agreed to give only the names of those already in the dungeon, they
being certain of punishment. The commandant would not credit the
assertion of so small a number of names, and the _souterrain_ was kept
locked. At all events, I was sure of being missed from my room, as there
was no possibility of getting back to it. At eleven o’clock they
generally mustered us--the _gendarme_ who gave us permission to go down
was in confinement, and it appeared that he had not given the correct
names in the beginning, and had not been interrogated particularly
afterwards, which accounted for the mistake between my name and Mr.
Brine’s. However, the moment which left me no hope or possibility of
avoiding detection was quickly approaching.

At nine o’clock, the commandant, Monsieur Clement, and all the other
officers of the garrison, descended in order to ascertain the havoc that
the English prisoners had made in the engineering of the fortification.

They found, of our tools, only an old piece of a saw, one solitary
hammer, and a few chisels, and they all expressed their astonishment at
our having made such great progress through such massive obstructions in
so short a time, and with such few and bad implements. During this
investigation I had a great deal of difficulty to conceal myself; and,
although I succeeded, I knew that eventually it could not be of any use,
for that when eleven o’clock arrived my fate would be decided.

At about ten o’clock, a load of wood came for the prisoners. Permission
was then asked to have the doors opened, that they might come up and
fetch it. This was denied, and the prisoners in the rooms above were
ordered to throw the wood down to those in the dungeon, through the air
holes, but, fortunately for me, the billets were too large to pass
through the gratings. Our guards were therefore obliged to open the
_souterrain_, and allow a certain number of the prisoners to ascend, in
order to fetch the wood down. A strict guard was placed at the door.

I contrived to get some clean clothes down, which were conveyed to me
through the bars, and I concerted a plan with one of my fellow-prisoners
that were bringing the wood down, a very respectable and well-conducted
man, a serjeant of marines of H.M.S. _Magnificent_. He was to make a
particular sign, by putting his hand on the back part of his head, when
the guard’s eyes were off the door; which he did, and at that instant I
glided, or rather jumped out.

The sentinels seized me, and desired me to descend again instantly. I
asked why they did not allow me to come up, since they had just now
permitted me to go down? I told them that I did not belong to the
_souterrain_, and that I had descended merely out of curiosity to see
what the prisoners had been about the last night. I reminded those who
had been in the habit of mustering the room to which I belonged, of
their mistake, and asked them how they could possibly suppose that I
belonged to the _souterrain_? They looked at me, appeared convinced, and
seemed surprised that they could not recollect my having passed them in
my descent, begged my pardon, and allowed me to pursue my way. I reached
my own apartment, where, in a few seconds, I was indisposed, and snug in
bed. Thus did I avoid being sent to the galleys: for, after my
reiterated attempts to escape, one more detection would have consigned
me to that horrible fate.

There was no danger of my being now discovered, until the _gendarme_,
who granted me the permission, should be liberated. In the afternoon I
obtained leave to go to the dungeon, to see my poor comrades and condole
with them. They were much rejoiced at my good fortune, but feared my
trick would soon be found out. Eight days passed on: I frequently paid
those poor fellows a visit during the time. The _gendarme_ Buché was
then released, and I was obliged to keep constantly in the room when he
was on duty; and, when he came to muster us, I was covered over in bed.
They never called the names: to count heads was their method, which
suited me admirably. Five more days had passed away in a similar manner,
when we received orders to prepare for a general review, which usually
takes place once a month.

_4th August._--On this day we were all placed in ranks and minutely
inspected. It appeared to my friends and myself that I could not avoid
discovery on this occasion, as all the _gendarmes_ attended. There was
no exception or excuse of sickness to be made; if a prisoner was able to
crawl he must attend, and frequently they were carried. I took my
station in the ranks, expecting in a few minutes to be lodged with my
old companions in limbo.

The _gendarme_, whom I had so long avoided, riveted his eyes upon me. I
had received information that he was going to make known to the
commandant Clement, or to General Maisonneuve, that I had importuned him
more than the rest, and was the person who prevailed on him to let any
down. He was astonished at seeing me, having been informed that I was in
the dungeon with the others. Shortly afterwards he passed me, and I saw
him go and speak to both the above-mentioned officers: I was then
confident he had completed the business. The review took place; every
one was inspected, and some were asked several questions. I was passed
over with very little notice. I could not account for it, yet was of
opinion that they would have said something on the subject had they been
made acquainted with it. Glad was I when we were all dismissed and the
officers allowed to retire. My escape was to me unaccountable, but not
on that score the less welcome; I was, however, so confounded at my good
fortune that I had forebodings that some latent mischief was held in

Whilst I was pacing to and fro, in an awkward dilemma, the _gendarme_
Buché approached and accosted me in these words:--

“By what miracle have you escaped from the dungeon? How, in the name of
all wonders, have you got up from the _souterrain_? I have seen you
walking about some days, although perhaps you did not see me.”

There was no mistaking his meaning, but, full of apprehensions as I was,
I resolved to put on a face of wonder at his thus presuming to address
me, and to persevere in an assertion of my ignorance of all he alluded

“Pray, sir,” I replied, “and why should I be put in the dungeon?”

“My God!” he exclaimed, astonished at my effrontery, “were you not the
very person that was chiefly the occasion of my letting you and your
three companions down to visit your friends, and to celebrate the
anniversary of a birthday, as you called it?”

“You must certainly, sir, have made a mistake; it was not me,” I
rejoined with an air of offended innocence.

The man was not to be browbeaten or imposed upon in this way. He stuck
to his text, and insisted that I was the culprit; but, to my great
relief, he added that he had no desire to see me punished, for, as his
punishment was over, mine could afford him no alleviation. I was glad to
find one human being so devoid of the spirit of revenge; and yet the
fellow added that he would have told the general and commandant of me,
had not his wife persuaded him--_Anglicè_, ordered and compelled
him--not to do it. Perhaps the lady might have had some peccadilloes on
the part of her husband to resent, and was not over-grieved at the
punishment into which I had betrayed him.

I still preserved my dignified composure, and assured him that he should
lose nothing by his indulgence, and for what he had suffered in
consequence of it, for I knew the generosity of the _gentleman_ on
whose account he had been put into confinement.

At this he could retain his countenance no longer, and he burst out into
a horse-laugh in my face. I was obliged to throw off the mask. He shook
me by the hand, and we became such good friends that he even took me to
the dungeon that afternoon, to see my unfortunate companions. Nothing
could astonish them more than my appearing with this man, whom they
imagined it morally impossible to appease, as his indulgence to me had
led to his disgrace and punishment. I gave them an account of all that
had happened, and of the dialogue that had that day taken place between
him and me, upon which they all congratulated me, and styled me the most
fortunate prisoner of the fortress.


     A trial at Metz--English officers sentenced to the galleys--Forging
     and using false passports--The consequences--A new scheme of
     escape--A favourable night but unfavourable sentinels--A farewell
     dinner--Another attempt at escape--A descent of ramparts by a
     rope--Concealment in a ditch--Rolling down a glacis--An adieu to
     the Mansion of Tears--Making towards the Rhine--Concealment in a
     wood--Refuge in a vineyard--Shooting a fox--Disturbed in our
     lair--A flight and its dangers--The banks of the Rhine--Passing the
     river--A joyful escape into neutral territory--Prospective comforts
     of an inn, and refreshment.

It was the next day (5th August, 1808) that my unfortunate companions
received orders to prepare for a march to Metz, to which place they were
sent under a strong escort, in order to take their trial as
conspirators. How the simple attempt of prisoners of war at
gaol-breaking could come under such a class of crime was to me
inexplicable. Buché, the _gendarme_, was ordered to repair to Metz, to
act in the double capacity of prosecutor and chief witness. I was now
entirely in this man’s power. A single word from him would have included
me in the number of the proscribed and condemned; for to be tried and
condemned before such a tribunal were tantamount to the same thing.
Fortunate did I consider myself that Buché did not denounce me.

I had the mortification to see my poor companions heavily ironed and
bound in chains. After being closely confined in their filthy and
pestiferous den for many days, they were to be marched twenty-five
leagues, in order to be put upon their fictitious trials. We parted as
affectionately as possible, and I could almost voluntarily have shared
their fate,--“Our crime was common,” in the words of the poet, and I
could not help repeating the end of the line, “and common be the pain.”

In a few days I received a letter from my friend Mr. Ashworth, giving me
a melancholy narration of the trial; and he concluded by stating that
himself, and several of our friends, were sentenced “_as slaves to the
galleys for fifteen years. Mr. Tuthill was sentenced to only nine._[25]”

I was so shocked with this part of the intelligence that I dropped the
letter, and proceeded no further, and I hurried to relate the afflicting
news to my brother-prisoners. The feelings of indignation it excited
were extreme, and though under the absolute power of the enemy, we
loudly exclaimed against the barbarity and tyranny of a nation that
called itself civilised, and could suffer such a judicial sentence to be
passed or executed.

After the first ebullitions of rage and indignation had subsided, one of
my friends picked up the letter, and the whole scene was quickly
changed; for, on reading further, he found that the sentence of the
court had been reversed. Great as was this consolation, it did not alter
my feelings towards the chief of the French nation.

The letter went on to inform me that two of our seamen were condemned to
the galleys for six years, and that they had actually been sent off to
their destination. This I thought was horrible.

I knew both of these unhappy victims. One was an Italian by birth, and
the other an Englishman. The former, John Gardner, _alias_ Italian John,
I found had been condemned for making out a false passport for the
other, one Henry Hudsell, _alias_ Quiz. Hudsell escaped from Bitche, and
travelled several leagues with this fictitious passport, before the
imposition was discovered. If the reader will only consider the
treatment which our prisoners had endured, with no prospect of having an
exchange during the war, and that although this said crime may be termed
forgery, it was not done to molest or injure any person whatever, but
was simply planned to liberate the bearer, I have not the smallest doubt
but that he will agree with me in opinion, that it falls very short of
deserving a punishment equal to six years, with all denominations of
malefactors, in the galleys.

There was an Englishman lately arrived from the galleys, who had served
in our army on the Continent, under His Royal Highness the Duke of York;
his name, to the best of my recollection, was Barnes. He stated that he,
with some others, had been made prisoners by the French, and, by some
accident, one of their guards was killed. The whole of the prisoners
were accused, and sentenced to twelve or thirteen years’ slavery--I am
not confident which; however, he was the only survivor. His time being
up, they conducted him to the depot of punishment, still to be
considered as a prisoner of war. It surely behoved our government, at
the peace of 1814, to direct strict inquiry to be made whether any of
our countrymen were still suffering in the galleys!

_September, 1808._--I had by this time another plan of escaping in
contemplation, and with every hope of success. The arrival of a Mr.
Hewson and a Mr. Butterfield, midshipmen (who, in March last, had
escaped from Verdun, and had got down to the Gulf of Lyons, in the
Mediterranean, where they had been arrested and brought back to Bitche),
favoured my plan very much. Mr. Hewson being an intimate friend and very
old acquaintance, I communicated to him my plan, and he rejoiced
exceedingly at an opportunity so soon offering for another attempt to be
off. However, it was necessary to wait some time, as he was placed in
the _souterrain_. In a few days he contrived, owing to real
indisposition, to be moved upstairs into a room appointed for the sick.
I now only waited for the worthy Hewson; it was necessary to endeavour
to get him up into my room--no other prospect was left. He made
application by letter to the commandant; and on the 11th of September
succeeded. We wanted nothing now but a favourable moment. The next day,
Mr. Barklimore, a mutual friend of ours, also received permission to
reside in our apartment. This gentleman is at present a surgeon of
reputation in Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury. We were, fortunately, only
seven in number, in consequence of the other poor fellows being at Metz;
and of these seven, three were confined to their beds. The fourth was a
Mr. Batley, a dragoon officer of the East India Company’s service, who
had been captured in the _Bell_ packet, bound to India. He had been a
long time in the room, and informed me that he had conjectured what we
were about, and requested to be allowed to join and partake of our
danger, which we agreed to. No opportunity of getting past the
sentinels yet presented itself. Our friends arrived from Metz, but were
put below. I communicated the business to them: they thought it a very
dangerous and hazardous plan; however, they would have willingly run the
same risk with us, if they could: but that was impossible. On the 12th
of September, and the very evening before our meditated attempt to
escape from the fortress, the commandant, M. Clement, in passing through
the yard in which we were allowed to respire the air, very
condescendingly stopped a few minutes to converse with me; when he
addressed me by saying, “Well, Monsieur O’Brien, I think now that the
Emperor of Austria has joined us, you must relinquish all hopes of
escaping, for there is no chance whatever for an Englishman to get off
from the Continent.” I replied, “That is very true, Monsieur le
Commandant; but if that had not been the case, Monsieur le Commandant,
where is the possibility of getting out of this strong fortress, and so
well guarded too?” “True,” said he, smiling; “but the attempt has been
made more than once, though it has invariably proved unsuccessful, and
frequently fatal to some of the party.” He continued by saying, “My
opinion is, that if prisoners of war, I mean English, could manage to
get out of confinement, their only course would be that towards Flushing
or Rotterdam, where they are always pretty certain of finding English
smugglers ready to embark them.” I assured Monsieur le Commandant that
his remarks were quite correct, and that if I thought there was the
slightest chance of escaping from the fort, I would not hesitate to try
and do so to-morrow, or as soon as possible. “I believe you truly,
Monsieur O’Brien, and I give you credit for your candour,” was his
reply; “had you spoken otherwise, I would not have believed you”: and
he added with a smile, as he bade me adieu, “you may try and get away if
you can, and we shall take care and do all in our power to prevent you.”
I could not help thinking this conversation at so critical a moment very
extraordinary. However, this opinion of his did not make us alter our
intended course for Austria.

It was now the 13th of September, and the third day since my friend
Hewson had joined us. The night was very boisterous and inclement, and
this we thought proved much in our favour. Everything was got ready. Our
rope was tightly wound into a ball and concealed in a pocket-handkerchief.
Every moment was anxiously watched and counted. At length darkness set
in. It rained in torrents, blew almost a hurricane, the thunder rolled
with a tremendous sound, and I scarcely ever witnessed in any part of
the globe a more desperate night. All this was so far, we considered,
propitious; but, unfortunately, the flashes of lightning were vivid and
incessant, and this was a serious source of danger.

We now unlocked our door, and remained at the bottom of the flight of
stairs, waiting to see the sentinels go into their boxes. This was about
eight o’clock, and four hours did we watch, until midnight, and not a
single soul of them left his post. This was the more provoking, for as
it poured a deluge of rain, and they were without their greatcoats, we
had calculated with certainty upon their requiring and seeking shelter.
The reverse was the case, and during the whole time they were as
vigilant as if they had suspected our designs.

We at last agreed to return to our apartments until the ensuing night,
and to deposit all our apparatus in places we had previously fixed upon
for concealment; but, upon second thoughts, we considered that, in all
probability, the sentinels that came to relieve the watch at midnight
would not be so very hardy or watchful as their predecessors, and that
we might yet have an opportunity of putting our scheme into execution.
In this expectation or hope we waited, in a state of intense anxiety,
until two in the morning; but, to our discomfiture, we found that the
sentinels defied the elements, and kept their posts in the strictest
sense of duty. Chagrined and vexed, we returned to our apartments,
locked the door and went to bed.

The _souterrain_ was opened at the usual hour, and our friends came
running up, imagining, from the inclemency of the night, that we must
have succeeded in effecting our escape; and greatly were they
disappointed at finding us all snug in our beds. I related all the
circumstances to them: they shrugged up their shoulders, and expressed
their fears that, if we could not get off in such a night as the last,
there was little hope of our escaping in fair weather.

On the 14th of September we dined early, that we might have the pleasure
of our friends’ company to a farewell dinner during the time allowed
them for breathing the fresh air. We were determined to lay in a good
foundation for our journey, and got a very large piece of beef, had it
roasted, and procured plenty of bread, beer, and vegetables. This, for
our circumstances, was more than an alderman’s feast: we all enjoyed it,
earnestly hoping that it might be the last that we should ever eat
within the walls of a French prison. Our friends pointed out to us the
number of difficulties we should have to surmount in passing the
guards--the danger that would attend it--and expressed the anxiety they
were under for us. We, however, were determined not to relinquish our
undertaking, and to be ready every night until an opportunity offered.
We parted as we had done the night before. They did not suppose we
should have any chance that night, as the weather was moderate and fair.
At our usual hour of six (the winter regulations having commenced) we
were locked up, and immediately recommenced our preparations. We
thought, perhaps, the sentinels might be more careless early in the
evening; that is to say, before eight, which was the usual time to set
the night-watch and give the necessary orders.

We were now again all ready. Our door was opened; and we could see the
sentinel, whom we had most to fear, walk up and down before our windows.
His box was in front of the door, in the yard through which we had to
go; but, as our guards lived underneath our apartments, we thought he
would take anybody moving about so early for one of them: and it was
unusual to challenge any one before eight o’clock.

At about seven, the soldier, to our infinite joy, entered his box. I
instantly descended the stairs that led into the yard. It was just dusk;
and I was to take six minutes on the forlorn hope, as it might justly be
termed, to fix our rope to a palisade, and to descend the first rampart,
before Mr. Hewson followed, who was next on the list. I passed the
sentinel quite close, and could see him leaning over his musket. He
never moved, though I met his eye, probably taking me for one of the
guards; and I arrived, providentially, at the spot fixed upon to make
fast the rope, which I very soon accomplished, and was just in the act
of descending when my friend Hewson arrived. In a few minutes, to my
inexpressible satisfaction, we were all four at the bottom of the first
wall. Our principal object being now accomplished, we congratulated each
other. We had two walls yet to descend; the heights, as I have already
mentioned, being respectively from 90 to 100, from 40 to 50, and the
third from 25 to 30 feet. We all clapped on to the rope, and crawled up
with our feet against the wall, until we got a good height. We then
swung off together, when the rope broke, and we fell upon one another,
leaving in our hands enough to enable us to descend the next rampart. We
made this piece fast to one of the upper stones of the embrasure, and
again descended. We had now to repeat our haul upon the rope, and it
again broke, leaving a piece of sufficient length for our future
purpose, the descent of the third and last rampart.

We had taken the precaution of providing two long boot-hooks to stick in
the wall, to make our rope fast to, in case we should find no other
means of securing it. These proved of the greatest use in getting down
the third rampart. In fact, had we not had them with us, we must have
surrendered ourselves, for not one single means could we find of
fastening the rope to anything, and to drop from a height of 30 feet
might have been destruction. The boot-hooks served our purpose: we were
at the bottom of the third wall; and all that we had now to do was to
pass the outer sentinels, who were few in number, and rather slack in
vigilance, perhaps from the supposed impossibility of any prisoner
effecting an escape in this direction. We had, in fact, let ourselves
down by this frail rope a total height of from about 180 to 200 feet.

At the bottom of the third rampart we remained in the _fosse_ or ditch;
and we had to watch the turn of the sentinel that was pacing immediately
before us. As soon as his back was fairly turned, we ascended the scarp
of the ditch, and gently rolled ourselves down the slope or glacis. In a
few minutes, with our hearts rebounding with joyous emotions, we were on
the road to Strasbourg, on which we continued running as fast as we
possibly could for nearly an hour. We then halted to put on our shoes,
which we had hung round our necks as we rolled down the glacis, as we
had found it more secure to descend the walls without shoes than with
them, the feet being much more pliable.

We now turned round to take, as we hoped, a final view of the Mansion of
Tears, the name that had been so long given to this detestable fortress
by the unfortunate prisoners, many of whom had shed an abundance, or
showers of them, within its horrid cells and dungeons. We spontaneously
returned our thanks to Almighty God for our deliverance, and shook each
other cordially by the hand, overwhelmed with exultation at our almost
miraculous success. When we looked at the stupendous heights of the rock
and fortress, it seemed as if a miracle alone could have enabled us to
descend them, suspended by so slight and ill-made a cord as that which
we had been able to construct out of our shirt-linen and a little
cobbler’s twine.

The adventures of the last hour flitted across my mind like a dream or
fairy tale. I could scarcely believe my senses when they told me that I
was once more free and my own master. I frequently stared at my
companions, and said to myself, “My God! is it then possible that we
are once more clear of our tyrants, and delivered from slavery and
persecution?” I now addressed them, and observed how much it behoved us
to proceed cautiously. It was Messrs. Hewson’s and Barklimore’s second
attempt, Mr. Batley’s first, but my third, the _souterrain_ affair not
included. I consequently had most reason to be on my guard; and of
course became the leader. I therefore candidly observed that I should
run no risks that could by any means be avoided, and that the moment
they should attempt anything that I deemed rash or imprudent I would
quit them. They expressed the utmost satisfaction at my resolutions, and
ardently desired to conform to them.

We unanimously directed our course (by the stars) due east, which would
take us directly to the Rhine, and a considerable distance to the
northward of Strasbourg; and at daybreak, on the 15th, we entered an
excellent wood on a mountain’s side, close to the high-road, got well up
into it, and had a full view the whole day of those who passed
underneath, without a possibility of being seen by them. We saw some of
the _gendarmes_ from our late mansion in full gallop towards the Rhine,
and were certain they were in pursuit of us, and intended to give a
description of us, as they advanced, to their brethren who were
quartered in the adjacent villages.

Barklimore, to our mortification, began already to feel strong symptoms
of a relapse of fever. However unfortunate this was, we were determined
not to quit either him or Batley until we had piloted them across the
Rhine. At about eight at night we descended from our lurking-place, and
proceeded cautiously in the above-mentioned direction. A little before
daylight (the 16th) we halted. Mr. Batley’s feet were exceedingly sore
and painful, and having a secure hiding-place, we thought it most
prudent not to advance farther until the next night. Our refreshment was
a little ammunition bread and sausage, with what other things (such as
cabbages, turnips, etc.) we procured in the fields. When it became dark
we recommenced our journey; but our two companions became weak and
exhausted, and our progress was therefore very slow. On the 17th we
halted, and remained in a wood, as we had done the two days before, and
at nightfall we again pushed on, expecting in a few hours to reach the
much-longed-for banks of the Rhine.

However, daylight on the 18th brought no appearance of the river; and,
what was of more consequence, there was no wood in view in which we
could screen ourselves. We advanced about a mile, when we discovered a
vineyard, into which we hastened with all possible speed. We were
apprehensive of being seen by the watchman or guard, who is always on
the look-out, and we consequently kept creeping forward, until we
calculated that we had reached at least the centre. The ground was very
wet and uncomfortable, and the rain kept dripping, or rather pouring,
upon us from the leaves; but we were not in a condition to be
fastidious, and were highly pleased at being so secure and well placed.

About an hour had elapsed, when we heard a man whistle at a short
distance. It struck us that this must be the guard, and if he saw us, we
were certain that he would suspect that we came at least to pick the
grapes, as they were almost ripe; which is a penal offence in this
country. Not many seconds afterwards we heard the report of a musket,
and the small shot rattled through the vines close to our heads. We
inferred that the fellow had taken this summary mode of arresting us;
but in a moment a huge fox, with dogs in chase, passed close by, with
the man shouting at a small distance behind, who, fortunately, did not
follow the dogs in a direct line, or he would have come right upon us.
How to act we could not devise. To quit the vineyard would have been
extremely dangerous, and after a short debate we thought it most prudent
to remain where we were. At about ten we were again greatly alarmed by
the sound of voices that were approaching us rapidly. We lay close down
on our faces, with no hopes of escaping from being seen, the voices
still drawing nearer. In a short time we found they were at a stand, but
close to us. I lifted up my head to peep through the vines, and saw the
legs and thighs of two men close to me, the skirts of their greatcoats
almost touching where we were; but their backs were turned, and they
were moving on in an opposite direction: in a few minutes we lost sight
of them altogether. I proposed to move to some other place, as we had
been in constant alarm since we chose the spot where we then were; and I
was of opinion that it was near a pathway. We accordingly crept along to
another spot, but had been scarcely an hour there when we again heard a
rustling amongst the vines. Each of us, much disconcerted, lifted up his
head, and looked towards the place whence we heard the noise; we
observed a woman with an infant in her arms, leading a little girl about
seven years old, and coming directly upon us. The woman could not see us
at first, but the child did, her little head being considerably under
the branches. She immediately screamed, and seized the woman by the
hands; upon which I stood up, and accosted her in German. She was
dressed in the country garb, appeared much confused, and made no reply,
but proceeded onwards, and we agreed to quit the vineyard before she
could get to the village to give an account of this occurrence. In a few
minutes we were upon the high-road. At that moment there were only two
women on it, and they seemed to be coming towards us. We advanced very
deliberately. I had studied German a little in Bitche, and found it now
of material service, it being the language spoken in Alsace. I asked
them what distance we were from the Rhine. “_Three hours_” they replied.
We parted, and continued our route, eagerly wishing to find some place
of concealment.

After a very short time we discerned a man advancing towards us. To our
great annoyance, he stopped and surveyed us over and over again with
apparent astonishment. We ought not to have been surprised at this, for,
in spite of every effort to avoid it, we were covered with mud, and must
have presented a woeful, or at least a very singular spectacle. Batley
was hardly able to crawl along, on account of his feet. We continued our
route, and we observed the man turn again and again to look at us; and,
without actually making out what we were, we had no doubt that he took
us for “no better than we should be.”

We now discovered a shrubbery, where we were soon snug and well
concealed. It was one of the best hiding-places I was ever in, although
it was close to the road. It was now about four o’clock, and we were not
far from the Rhine. Under these favourable circumstances we hoped to be
able to cross it that night at least. Our conversation now turned upon
the difficulty of getting a boat, and the danger of approaching a house
on the French side. Our provisions were nearly exhausted. However, we
were sanguine of success, and anxiously wished for night, that we might
make our experiment.

The anxious hour arrived, and we set forward with great spirit--not,
however, forgetting to observe every necessary precaution. As this part
of the Rhine was infested with smugglers, it was natural to conclude
that there must also be a great number of custom-house officers, and we
were obliged to be most vigilant and circumspect--need I say that the
Étaples affair was vivid in my memory?

About eleven we made the circuit of a large town,[26] and at midnight,
to our unspeakable joy, we descried the long-wished-for river, with its
broad expanse shining like a mirror, and reflecting the heavens in a
mirror-like way. We were soon on its banks. We rested for a few minutes,
to take breath and to make our observations. There was an excellent wood
hard by, and we resolved to retreat into it for concealment, in case we
should not be able to get a boat that night; and, in the meantime, we
agreed to proceed for about an hour in a northerly direction: which
course we commenced, prying into every little creek and nook of the
river. The morning being starlight, beautiful, and serene, we could hear
the cocks crowing and dogs barking on the German side. This splendid
river flowed before us, about a mile in breadth, with not an island to
impede the view, which is not the case on all parts of the Rhine. My
God! how we longed to be conveyed across! This anxiety prevented our
fully enjoying the delightful prospect before us: it appeared to be a
terrestrial paradise. We continued nearly an hour admiring and
advancing, when the Great Ruler of all human affairs, whose Providence
had so much favoured us throughout this attempt to escape, gave to our
view a boat made fast with a chain to a stake driven into the bank,
close to a heap of wood, which I supposed she was to have been loaded
with at daylight. We were all struck with the secret impulse which had
directed us to this very spot; and from that moment I felt an inward
support and conviction that I should now succeed. On examining further,
we found the chain of it locked. The doctor and myself got hold of the
stake, and with little difficulty drew it out of the bank. This security
of a chain and lock upon a movable stake made me observe that it was
like “the lock upon leather which made the Irishman’s knife laugh.”
Three of our party being from the Green Isle, the remark caused a
general burst of merriment. Mr. Hewson, an expert sailor, and myself,
soon constructed a pair of oars, or paddles, out of a couple of pieces
of the wood. We then embarked our two comrades, whom we placed at the
bottom of our little boat; and in about twenty minutes we were safely
landed on the opposite side, having drifted nearly a mile and a half
with the rapidity of the flood. We drove the stake in the ground, that
the owners of the boat might find her at daylight, and proceeded into
the country as fast as possible. We would have left money for the owner
of the boat for the trouble we had caused him, though we were most
woefully provided with that necessary of life; but it was obvious that
there could be no certainty, and even little probability, of its falling
into the right hands.

At daybreak of the 19th it became excessively thick and foggy: poor
Batley was almost knocked up, the doctor was very much fatigued, and
ourselves rather weary. We discovered a village on the river Merg, and
after surveying it strictly, we agreed to enter it and to go to the
first public-house we should see, for the purpose of obtaining
refreshments and putting ourselves into as decent order as we could, not
only for the sake of comfort, but in order to prevent our appearing as
objects of suspicion. I calculated that we might very well pass
ourselves off as Frenchmen; and from the knowledge I had of the German
small villages, I was not in the least apprehensive of danger. This was
the sixth day, including Wednesday, that we had passed without rest, and
five of them under the open canopy of heaven, exposed to the elements,
without having even once approached the dwelling of any human being.
They who are clothed in purple, and fare sumptuously every day, can form
no idea of what man endures, unfed, uncomforted, unhoused, and even


     Refreshments at a village inn--The town of Rastadt--A civil
     traveller--Good accommodation--Baden--Awkward rencontre with a
     royal party--An alarm about passports--A genteel inn dangerous to
     fugitive travellers--The advantages of a drunken landlord--The town
     of Hornberg--To Kriemhieldsach, after passing the Black
     Forest--Banditti--The murder of a French general--A German inn and
     a rustic dance--The town of Tütlingen--A concealment of eight
     days--Vain attempts to smuggle passports--Progress of our
     journey--Crossing the Iller--Leaving Würtemberg and entering
     Bavaria--The progress of our flight--Kaufbeuern--An inquisitive
     landlord and frightened guests.

“Come what come may,” we were out of hated France, and our pulses beat
with joy that the glorious river intervened between us and the land of
our bondage and sufferings. “Flow on, thou shining river,” I repeated
from the song of Erin’s modern poet, “flow on; for neither French
_gendarmes_, French spies, nor French laws can reach us across thy broad
and noble expanse of flowing waters. Here French chains cannot corrode
the body, nor can French despotism and tyranny prostrate the spirit, and
eat, like the canker-worm, into the heart.” Such were our reflections as
we left the banks of this river of salvation and proceeded to the
neighbouring village.

It was about seven in the morning that we entered into a tavern--if so
it could be called. A servant-maid and child were the only people up. We
gave ourselves out as French travellers from Prussia going into France,
and who wanted their breakfast.

The landlady was forthwith roused; breakfast was prepared; a barber, who
was also a surgeon, was sent for, and we got shaved, had our clothes
brushed, and again made ourselves look “somewhat like gentlemen.” We
found the house very well calculated for our purpose, and this barber
and surgeon proved to be an intelligent sort of a man. Rastadt, he told
us, was but three leagues off; and from different questions we put to
him, we found that we must have crossed the Rhine close to Durlach.
Rastadt was on the river Merg, and about four miles north from Baden,
the capital of the margravate.

We quitted our village inn at about nine, having well satisfied our
landlady for our excellent breakfast and timely accommodation. We had
fed like cormorants upon coffee, and delicious bread and butter, and
felt all the refreshments of shorn beards, washed skins and tolerably
well-brushed clothes.

We now directed our course towards Rastadt. Batley was very lame.
Everybody that passed took notice of him, and it became too evident that
it was impossible for him to continue the journey many hours longer. As
I have before observed, we had intended to leave him and the doctor the
moment we had got across the river into Germany; but we now agreed not
to quit our other friend. The great and difficult point was, where to
place the invalid, so as to secure his safety until he should recover
the use of his limbs. He regretted not having remained where we had

Rastadt then appeared to us an open town. We thought it too dangerous,
however, to pass through it; we therefore made a _détour_, and struck
off the road to a small village about two leagues distant, where we went
into a public-house. They could not speak French, nor could we
sufficiently explain in their language what we wanted respecting our
sick friend. An old man was sent for as interpreter, who happened to be
a shoemaker. We began by ordering a pair of shoes for Batley; and then
observed that we were Frenchmen from Prussia, going to Strasbourg; that
our comrade, Batley, was knocked up, and we wished it explained to the
people that we meant to leave him with them a few days until he had
gathered strength. We requested he would pay every attention to the
guest and act as his interpreter. They agreed to our wishes; a bed was
immediately prepared for him; we dined together, and then took our leave
of this poor fellow, and a painful leave it was.

We continued our pretended route, until we lost sight of the village,
and then changed our course. We commiserated greatly the misfortunes of
our poor companion, and feared that even the shoemaker would discover
what he was, as he spoke French so very indifferently.[27] The day was
closing very fast, and it behoved us to look out for a lodging for the

We advanced towards a large village, situated in our direction. It was
quite dusk. We passed through it to the opposite extremity, by which
time it was about eight o’clock. We were undecided how to act, and it
began to rain very hard. We were met by an old man genteelly dressed,
walking on very fast, to avoid getting wet. He stopped, evidently with a
design to speak to us. We accosted him in French; asked him what
distance the palace of Baden was from us, and if we were likely to fall
in shortly with any place at which we could put up for the night, in the
direction we were then going. He replied in broken French, which we were
pleased to hear, that it would be midnight before we could arrive at any
sort of place that would answer our purpose; and as the weather was bad,
and the hour so very late, he advised us to turn back with him to the
village we had just passed, where there were excellent accommodations;
and he would take upon himself to show us to a decent tavern, where we
should be well attended to and made comfortable.

The kind and disinterested manner in which the old gentleman accosted us
induced us to accept of his services. He accordingly conducted us to a
genteel house, close to a glass manufactory, where the workmen lodged.
We ordered supper, invited the old gentleman to partake of it, which,
after some hesitation, he agreed to. I apprehended they might demand to
see our passports, which lessened my enjoyment until nearly bed-time;
but I then made myself quiet upon that head. We spoke to each other, and
conversed with such of the workmen as could speak French. I am certain
they took us for Frenchmen, which was a fortunate circumstance, and
perhaps prevented their making any further inquiries. Shortly after
supper our good friend departed, and we were shown to our chamber, where
each had an excellent bed. The hail and rain which beat against the
windows, convinced us of what we should have suffered had we not taken
the good old man’s advice.

We agreed to be off very early, lest any accident should prevent our
proceeding altogether. This point being settled, each soon composed
himself to sleep, and in a few minutes were most soundly in the arms of
Morpheus; nor did I open my wearied eyes, until I had been repeatedly
called by my comrades the next morning. The weather was still very bad.
However, we got our breakfast, and proceeded _en route_ without asking
to be directed to any particular place, in order that they might not
suppose that we were unacquainted with the country. I knew it was
necessary to keep to the southward, in order to avoid a chain of almost
inaccessible mountains that would prevent our advancing into the
interior. We were now surrounded with woods and deserts, and could not
tell which way to turn or proceed. In this state of perplexity we
luckily saw, at a distance, a peasant and a little boy loading a cart
with wood. We made towards them, but it was a long time before we could
make them understand that we had lost our way and wished to be directed
towards Friburg, which we well knew to be to the southward of us. At
length we succeeded, and the civil fellow left his boy and cart, and
went with us nearly two miles in order to put us on the right road. We
paid this honest and good creature for his trouble, though it was some
time before we could prevail upon him to accept of anything.

About noon we passed the palace of the Margrave of Baden, and owing to
the intricacies of the mountains that surrounded it, we were obliged to
border upon it much closer than we wished. It had a romantic appearance.
In one of the avenues through which we had to go, we perceived two
officers on horseback. We immediately darted amongst the trees, and
concealed ourselves until they had passed. We soon got on an immensely
broad high road, when we saw a number of horsemen dressed in scarlet
going before a carriage. The whole cavalcade was at full speed. We
rapidly turned off towards some huts, and barely escaped confronting
this formidable party. The peasantry were all uncovered as the carriage
passed, and from this we of course inferred that it was the royal
equipage; and, on inquiry, we were told that the person in the carriage
was the Duke of Baden’s son, who had already assumed the title of
king.[28] We were informed that we were in the proper direction for
Friburg, and proceeded in great spirits.

We had to pass through several respectable villages on the highway.
About six in the evening, in going through one, Barklimore being a good
way in the rear, I heard him call out to us to stop, as there was a man
who wanted to see our papers; but naturally we were in too great a haste
to be retarded. The man certainly was looking very eagerly at us; but if
he had been a police-officer he would not have hesitated to pursue us.
He did not; and as our companion did not understand German, we inferred
that his fears had made him misconstrue the fellow’s meaning.

About seven we discovered another village in the direction we had to
take. We approached a public-house, called for some beer, and inquired
if we could be supplied with beds? “No,” was the reply; but they
directed us to another house where all the beds happened to be occupied;
and these people sent us to a third, with no better success. We knew not
what to do, and regretted much at not being able to remain in this
little village for the night, as, from its appearance, we had no reason
to be under the slightest apprehension. A person, whom we took for a
publican, seeing us in a state of suspense, addressed us in French, and
said, “Gentlemen, you appear to want lodgings; there is a small town,
about two or three miles farther on, where you can get good
accommodation.” We returned him thanks and appeared pleased at the
intelligence; though, in fact, we dreaded being accommodated as he had
described, lest, in the sequel, we might find ourselves accommodated
_gratis_, with sundry extra cares and civilities forced upon us, much
above our wants, and against our inclinations. I asked him if he did not
suppose that the gate would be shut before we arrived. The sinister
object of the question he did not see through, and to our great joy he
replied that there were no gates at all, as the town was perfectly open.
Upon this intelligence we resolved to proceed, although we determined to
approach the place with great circumspection.

At about half-past nine we arrived at the town and it did not appear to
be a place from which we could have much or anything to apprehend. We
looked out for an inn, and, as usual, we resolved not to go to the first
we should see, if we possibly could avoid it, nor in any case to enter
any one that was not of an humble description.

At length we discovered one, and, from its appearance and locality, we
were induced to enter it. We were disagreeably surprised; for we were
shown into a genteel coffee-room, and, from the appearance of the
guests, landlady, and servants, it was evident we had got into the very
sort of inn which of all others we ought to avoid. However, it was too
late to retreat. Hesitation would infallibly have exposed us to
suspicion; and had we evinced any confusion, detection and apprehension
would undoubtedly have ensued. We therefore put a bold face on the
matter, and with an air of nonchalance, as if we had got into the sort
of place we had been accustomed to, and wished to find, I called for
some wine, and my friends ordered supper.

I was, however, indisposed, and ordered the chambermaid to light me to
bed, informing my companions that I did not intend to undress until they
should come to bed; and that if they happened to discover the slightest
symptoms of danger, I would be ready at an instant to decamp. One very
fortunate circumstance was, that “mine host,” Master Boniface, was
disgustingly drunk, and although he often looked earnestly at us, as if
he wished to ask us some questions, he was so far gone that he could not
utter a syllable. I lay down on the bed full of anxiety; nor could I
forget Barklimore’s fears of the man who, as he supposed, had challenged
him for his papers.

After their supper my friends came to bed. They informed me that they
did not think that we were in any imminent danger, nor did they suppose
that we were perfectly safe, as our security chiefly depended upon the
state of the intoxication of the landlord. It was not very pleasant to
have our liberties or lives dependent upon another man’s drunkenness;
and we came to the determination to rise before the fellow could become
sober, to pay our reckoning, and be off. At twilight we dressed
ourselves, and awakened the servants, who instantly went and informed
their master that we were preparing to depart. It was evident that we
were in imminent danger. The landlord soon appeared, and, to our great
joy, was in such a state of stupefaction that he could scarcely open his
eyes. He demanded whither we were going so early? “To Strasbourg,” was
my reply. He observed, we should be there very soon, it being only five
leagues distant. We were aware of that, and wished him a good morning.
By ten we were in sight of Offenburg--made its circuit, and got on the
road to Gigenbach, which we saw about six o’clock. We then crossed the
river Kinzig, and proceeded on the direct road towards Tütlingen. I now
perfectly recollected our route, from having so recently passed it with
the Bavarians. At midnight we halted in a small poor village; got
supplied with refreshments and a sort of bed. Barklimore had a severe
fit of the fever and ague.

On the morning of the 22nd of September we got some breakfast, and
proceeded. At about six we discovered a kind of fortress on the side of
a mountain, over a small town. We advanced with all possible precaution;
but as we approached, it appeared to be a place of little consequence,
and we therefore walked forward boldly. We found ourselves close to the
gate of a snug little town; and seeing no military or police-officers,
we proceeded right through it. After passing the opposite gate, we
stopped at a wine-house, refreshed ourselves, and were informed the name
of the town was Hornberg. The next halting-place was Kriemhieldsach,
where there was a post-house; it was about three or four leagues off,
and on the verge of the Black Forest, which we had to march through
before we arrived. All travellers, they informed us, preferred stopping
at Hornberg, to going through so lonely and disagreeable a place as the
Black Forest, and at so late an hour. However, we were exceptions to the
general rule, and we marched on.

The Black Forest, so celebrated of late for Moreau’s retreat through it
before the Austrians, is a name very appropriately given to this
dreadful region, for I never in my life beheld a country so mountainous,
dismal, and barren. It used formerly to be infested by banditti, and in
the late wars, the Germans, lying concealed, used at convenient moments
to issue forth and inflict the severest losses on the French troops;
cutting off stragglers, capturing convoys, and making prisoners of all
small detached corps. I was told that a French General, whose name I now
forget, had been shot in his carriage whilst passing through the Forest,
and that the postilions, who had heard the report of the rifle, never
discovered his death until their arrival at Hornberg. We met with only
two or three people before we got to Kriemhieldsach. The road on each
side was lined with trees, and was admirably calculated for the tactics
of banditti.

At about eleven we reached the post-house, rapped at the door, and
demanded admittance.

“Who is there?--and what are you?” was asked by a person within.

“Three French travellers who want lodgings,” was my reply.

The door was immediately opened, and we were readily shown upstairs into
the public-room. We could willingly have dispensed with publicity, and
have put up with “a room in private”; but, happily, the appearance of
the guests inspired us with confidence. We called for supper, and
desired they would prepare our beds. They complied, and without asking a
single question, or betraying the least signs of suspicion or

Our friend Barklimore had been very much indisposed all day, but the inn
was not the best calculated in the world for a sick man’s slumbers;
for, as we demanded our beds, the family of the innkeeper and all his
guests began to dance. The music was what the Germans call a
“doodle-sack”--a species of that harsh and discordant instrument that we
call a Scotch bagpipe. Waltzing was introduced. The scene became
animated. The doctor forgot his illness, engaged a pretty partner, and
began to dance with great glee. This company all observed, “What a
lively, merry people you Frenchmen are!” I could not help smiling at the
remark, nor could I refrain from reflecting upon the vast difference
between waltzing at night with a pretty German partner, and sleeping in
the mud in the open air, or in the still worse dungeons of Bitche. My
other companion, Hewson, caught the spirit of the scene, and joined the
dance. I, however, remained an exception to the general company, and
never moved from the table until the dance was over, and then we all
retired to bed.

On the 23rd, in the morning, our invalid friend was not the better for
the inspirations of Terpsichore. He was scarcely able to move. I then
found the benefit of having remained quiet, whilst they had been
displaying their agility on the light fantastic toe. However, weak as
the doctor was, we paid our bill and pursued our route. Early in the
afternoon, having fallen in with a small village, we halted, refreshed
ourselves, and went to bed very early. The doctor was extremely ill, and
sorry for having so strenuously supported the French character.

_24th._--We departed as early as usual, and passed round several towns,
and at eight in the evening stopped at a small village, and got
refreshed. The people were particularly attentive, speaking often in
praise of the French nation: they had very frequently some of our
countrymen billeted on them. We left Rothweil upon the right, and were
told we should be early the next day at Tütlingen, where I was in hopes
of being favourably received. We were in great spirits, passed the
evening pleasantly, and imagined that our principal difficulties had
been surmounted.

On Sunday, the 25th, we breakfasted, and passed on towards the
much-wished-for town. At eleven we were in sight of it. I proposed to my
companions to remain concealed in an adjacent wood, while I went into
the town to try what could be done; they agreed to it; and we only
regretted not having our companion Batley with us.

I entered the town about noon, and went where I expected some
assistance, from my former knowledge of the place when conducted thither
by the Bavarians, and the hopes then held out to me; but, to my great
mortification, I could obtain none. I returned with these doleful
tidings to my companions, assured them there was no danger, and went
back again to use every effort to procure passports.

The second time I met with some people who promised to assist as much as
they could in promoting my wishes. They got my companions into the town,
and placed them upstairs in a friend’s tavern; there, in daily
expectation of being supplied with what we wanted, we remained concealed
until Tuesday, 4th October, a period of eight days, when, with depressed
spirits, gloomy faces, and light purses, we were conducted before
daybreak on the direct road to Memmingen, as we had determined to take
that course to Saltzburg. We had been regularly deceived by some of
those who had promised me assistance in the event of my ever coming
again that way, and had only to thank our stars that we had not been

During our stay in this place we procured an old German map, which we
found of very material service to us. About noon we passed Mosskirch,
keeping about two miles to the right of it. After nightfall we crossed
the river Andalspach, and determined to stop at the first safe place we
could find. We soon discovered a house on the roadside, and it appeared
to be an inn. We entered, and called for bread and wine, which we found
was all the provision that the miserable place afforded. This was good
enough for us; but a light-horseman acted as waiter, and he spoke
French, which created many unpleasant apprehensions in my mind. We asked
for beds, and they declared they had not any; but the light-horseman
told us that there was clean straw in the stable, to which we were
welcome. We quitted the place, although we had been informed that the
next village was more than a league distant, for I was not at all
pleased with my military waiter. He was too kind and inquisitive.

We pursued our route at least a league through the centre of a forest.
The road was very good. At last we heard a prodigious shouting ahead,
and could not account for such a noise at so late an hour; however, it
announced the proximity of a village--perhaps the one that had been
described to us. We advanced apace. The shouting, singing, and confusion
of noises still continued. We shortly discovered an immense concourse of
people, of both sexes, on the road, coming towards us. They passed us
decorated with ribands and cockades, from which we concluded it was a
festival or wedding. We now saw the village very plainly, and soon
arrived at it. We went to the first public-house we could discover, but
it was so thronged that they could not receive us. By a great deal of
persuasion we prevailed on them to direct us to another, where we got
beds and refreshments. There were a great number of police-officers and
soldiers in the first house, but they were so much elated and amused
that they could not attend to make any observations upon us.

We paid excessively dear here for everything; and in the morning we
quitted it, and proceeded towards Waldsee, a town of Suabia, with a
castle. At about six in the evening we passed it, leaving it at a
respectable distance on the right. At eight we stopped at a small
village, where we got beds and supper. At daylight we recommenced our
journey, and about four in the afternoon we discovered the river Iler,
which we had to cross. We were quitting the territory of Würtemberg, and
entering Bavaria. We saw a bridge, but imagined also that we could
distinguish a look-out house or turnpike on it, which alarmed us not a
little; so we concealed ourselves in a wood until dusk, and then
advanced, and crossed the bridge without any difficulty. There were
several houses on each side, but, fortunately, we saw no police-officer,
or any person that could cause the least apprehension. We continued our
route above a league, when we came to a tavern thronged with waggoners;
but we got a private room and went very early to bed.

Our friend Barklimore was now seized with a very severe fit of fever,
and it behoved us to be very circumspect in Bavaria, lest we should be
obliged to quit our sick companion. The stimuli of danger and necessity
enabled him the next morning to attempt the day’s fatigue. We walked
very slowly in consideration of his illness.

At night we slept at a village; and not only were the people civil, but
our landlady got our shirts washed for us, and dried by the next
morning. This was not a slight task, considering how long we had worn
them. We were much annoyed, however, by the landlord. He was in the last
stage of consumption, and the short remainder of his life seemed to be
devoted to inquisitiveness. In vain did we tell him we were French
travellers going to Kaufbeuern, where we had many friends. His “whys”
and “wherefores,” and his “what-thens” and “where-nexts” were most
inconvenient to travellers in our suspicious circumstances. We assured
him that from Kaufbeuern we should, in all probability, proceed to
Saltzburg, but nothing would satisfy his curiosity; and whilst his wife
was in the act of contributing to the refreshing of our bodies by
washing our shirts, he was tormenting our minds by questions, one-tenth
of which had we answered, or at least answered honestly, we should
infallibly have seen ourselves in a few days on the high road to


     Leaving Kaufbeuern on the left hand--Crossing the Wardach and the
     Lech--A welcome ferry-boat--The town of Weilheim--A long and
     exhausting march--The soporific of fatigue--The ferry over the
     river Inn--Frightened at a soldier--A false alarm--Crossing the
     river--The town of Reichenhall--Our approach to the Bavarian
     frontiers--The increase of dangers--Passing barriers with
     success--A supposition that we were in the Austrian dominions--A
     woeful miscalculation and a narrow escape from its fatal
     consequences--An unexpected demand for passports--An evasion--The
     Bavarian and Austrian confines--Our extreme danger--Anticipating
     the galleys--A track through a wood at the foot of a mountain--A
     flight--The boundary passed, and the fugitives in the Emperor’s
     dominions--Soldiers in ambush--The fugitives captured--Feigning to
     be Americans from Altona--Rage of the Bavarian guard at being

It was on the 8th of October (1808) that we took leave of our
consumptive and inquisitive landlord, and left Kaufbeuern on the left
hand in passing. If his lungs, throughout life, had been as actively
employed in asking questions as they had been whilst we were with him,
the only wonder is that they had lasted him so long. We crossed the
Wardach, and directed our course towards Schöngau. At about six in the
evening it began to snow so very hard that we took shelter in an
adjacent village for the night. It was small, and suited us very well.
At the public-house there was a shoemaker at work for the family, and
they had the kindness to allow him to repair our shoes.

The next morning we proceeded on our journey, though the weather was
very severe, snowing, and blowing right in our faces. Barklimore was
much better, and we did not deem it prudent to remain long in one place.
At noon, finding an excellent halting-house, in consequence of the
severity of the weather, and being wet to the skin, we stopped at it:
this little public-house supplied us with a large blazing fire. We dried
our clothes, got refreshed, and went to bed early. At daybreak we
recommenced our journey; and, at about eleven, we saw Schöngau, which
appeared to be a very strong place, and consequently to us a place of
danger. We could discover no possibility of crossing the Lech without
passing close by, if not through it. We consulted what was best to be
done, and, without hesitation, decided upon turning to the left and
keeping on the banks of that river, until we could find some other place
to cross over. We accordingly continued to the northward about eight
miles, when we perceived a ploughman at work with some strong horses in
an adjacent field. It immediately struck me that, by mounting, we might
be able to swim over the river on the back of the horses. I accordingly
made the proposal to the ploughman, and endeavoured to strike a bargain.
The stupid lout took all as a joke, and laughed me to scorn; but when he
found that I was really in earnest, he considered me little less than
mad to entertain such an idea. At last, after incessantly repeating the
word _schiff_, he pointed to a ferry-boat on the opposite side. On this
we came close down to the river; and, after waving and making signals
for some time, we had the satisfaction of seeing a man put off in a
boat. Notwithstanding that, from the late heavy falls of rain, the
flood was very strong, he conducted himself across in a very masterly
style, and then ferried us over in a manner equally satisfactory. We
joyfully paid him his usual fare, which was about one penny, and by
eight at night we had retraced our steps on the opposite bank by a
distance of eight miles, for the purpose of regaining the high road.
Weilheim was the next large town in our route, but we halted at a small
village. We were dreadfully knocked up, and having obtained refreshment,
we went to bed, and found that the best soporific on earth was fatigue.
Not all “the drowsy syrups of the world” could “medicine us to a more
sweet sleep” than the long and dreary march we had taken.

In the morning we proceeded on our journey, and by ten we made a circuit
round Weilheim, with its castle, crossed the Amper, and directed our
course for Tötz. At night we sought shelter in a peasant’s hut, at the
foot of the lofty range of mountains that separate Bavaria from the

At eleven the next morning we discovered the town of Tötz, in a valley
on the Amper. In general, the sight of a town is gratifying to a
traveller, and gratifying in proportion to its size. In our case the
reverse was the fact; and every town was an object of alarm, and
especially if it were of any considerable magnitude or population. Tötz
appeared a place difficult to pass. We turned to the southward, and
after marching many a dreary league over mountains, and through forests
and morasses, we luckily discovered a bridge, which we crossed without
any interruption. I observed on the river a number of floats and rafts
which were admirably constructed, and they were adroitly steered with
the stream, which was excessively rapid. Even this semblance of an
approach to nautical affairs filled my mind with thoughts of my
profession, and gave gladness to my heart. Having passed the bridge, we
were enticed to enter a public-house, where we procured some fish,
bread, and beer for dinner. There were a number of both sexes
intoxicated in this house; they all appeared to be employed in
conducting the timber down the river, and reminded me of Billingsgate
and Wapping ballast-heavers. Although it rained excessively hard, we
were under the necessity of proceeding. Barklimore got a lift in a
waggon for three or four miles, and the waggoner declined receiving
payment for it. I must, in justice to continental inhabitants, observe
that this feature of disinterestedness is frequent on the Continent; how
far it may be common in our own country I leave to every man’s

On the 12th, at daylight, we recommenced our route towards Neubeuern,
and in the evening, at eight, we stopped for the night at a small
village, where the inn was very decent, and we were well entertained. In
the morning we parted from these good folks, but who were apparently not
very partial to the French.

At eleven we espied Neubeuern. It is a fort, situated on the side of a
hill, on a branch of the river Inn; we were on the opposite side to it,
and were very much confused and at a loss how to get across. There
appeared a small town also, which I suppose bore the same name. We
approached the banks of the river, and discovered a ferry-boat on the
opposite side. On each bank sheers were erected, with a stay or rope
from one side to the other, to which the ferry-boat was made fast with a
long rope and traveller to traverse upon the stay. It was constructed
in such a manner, that (let the current be however rapid) one man was
sufficient to conduct the ferry-boat across. There was, on our side, a
shed with seats for passengers to rest themselves, and wait for their
conveyance. In this place we found an old man, who, from his garb and
apron, we supposed to be either a hatter or dyer. He spoke no other
language than German; he lived (as he made us understand) in the
opposite village, and was actually a hatter by trade. He informed us
that the ferryman was getting his dinner, and would not attend until
after one o’clock. We inquired whether the fortress was strong,
although, whether strong or weak, it was evidently strong enough to
capture us, and to keep us in durance vile. The answer was, that it
contained “only a few veterans,” a species of force we particularly
objected to; for, although we could get to windward of raw recruits, it
was not easy to impose upon old campaigners. This hatter seemed to
measure the inside of our heads, and his inquisitive disposition was
very far from agreeable to us, under our awkward circumstances. He at
last asked us if we were going to Saltzburg. This was a convenient
question, for our answering in the affirmative gave us the plausible
opportunity of inquiring how far Saltzburg was off. “Fifteen leagues”
was the reply, and I need not say that not one of us felt his heart
rebound at the news that he was so far from this point towards his
journey’s end.

We dreaded lest there should be an examination of travellers, and an
inspection of passports, so near to the frontier garrison; but in vain
did we sound the hatter on the subject.

One o’clock arrived; the ferryman approached, but he was accompanied by
a soldier, with an immense feather, which waved so terrifically in the
air that it seemed ominous of our capture and subsequent fate. We dared
not ask the hatter another question, lest it should create suspicions,
and although we had time to make any escape, we reflected that we had no
other means of crossing the river. In fact, we were unsettled. We
considered and reconsidered, resolved and abandoned our resolution.
Consternation certainly prevailed over our councils, which ended in our
agreeing to wander in the fields, and watch what might be the object of
the soldier with his immense feather. The poet[29] has the line,

    Pleased with a feather, tickled with a straw,

but never were men less pleased with a feather than I and my companions.
We agreed that if this man made towards us, we were to separate in
different directions, and thus try to baffle him; if he took the common
high road, we were to conclude that he had not come across the river for
our capture. We were in a great state of alarm. At length the boat
touched the shore. The son of Mars, with the feather in his cocked-hat,
jumped out of the boat. Every eye was upon him, and each of us had one
leg in advance ready to fly his approach, when, to our inexpressible
joy, he did not condescend to look upon us, but pursued his course
towards the high road. Never was contempt more welcome to the
disregarded or despised. We got into the ferry-boat with the hatter, and
landed on the opposite banks.

The fare was a mere trifle. We had to change a florin, and, although we
would willingly have paid five times the sum, if we could have afforded
it, to get clear off, we waited to have our change regularly made out,
which took some time, as the pieces were so difficult to be
comprehended, and the ferry-man had to borrow a part from the hatter.
But we dreaded, if we had not been thus particular, they might have
suspected that all was not right, and given information at the garrison.
Matters being arranged, we continued our route carelessly, until we were
out of sight of the fortress; then we pushed on as fast as we possibly
could, to make up for the delay of the ferry.

About seven o’clock in the evening we halted at a very convenient house
on the roadside; got beds and supper; and at daylight recommenced our
walk. We were now on the high road to Reichenhall, the last Bavarian
town we should have to pass. Each of us was in excellent spirits, and
almost confident of getting clear, from the success that had lately
attended us. We exerted all our force to get as soon as possible into
the Austrian territories, and walked at least twelve leagues this day,
till, being very much fatigued, we agreed to proceed to a village on the
borders of the lake of Kempsee, and to stop there for the night. We soon
made out a public-house; got supper, and retired to bed. The people were
civil, and not at all inquisitive.

We rose early and pursued our journey. We met several people, but none,
to our joy, seemed to possess the slightest spirit of curiosity. We
found out that we were still three leagues from Reichenhall. We advanced
apace, but with precaution, knowing how particular they generally are on
the frontiers. We also agreed, if we could get immediately safe into
Austria, to avoid Saltzburg altogether, and make directly for Trieste.
Barklimore was becoming exhausted. The roads were rough and dreary, and
not a village or human dwelling was to be seen, even to the utmost verge
of the horizon. As we drew near to Reichenhall, we overtook two waggons,
and prevailed upon one of the waggoners to give a lift to our lame and
disabled companion. Never was an arrangement more fortunate, for no
sooner had he got accommodated in the waggon than two Bavarian
_gendarmes_ came in view. Hewson and myself sought concealment on the
other side of the road, and thus did we escape detection.

For several days past I had observed that all the notices and directions
on the roadside were both in German and in French. The road we were
travelling was quite new, and it appeared that it had been made since
the battle of Austerlitz, in order to facilitate the future entry of the
French into the Austrian dominions. It was on a magnificent scale, and
must have cost immense sums, being cut through stupendous rocks and
mountains. It was the finest military road I had ever beheld, and
evinced the gigantic project that Napoleon must have had in

We were apparently within two miles of the town, and we begged the
waggoner to let our friend descend. The too good-natured fellow offered
to carry him into the town, and we were obliged to pretend that we had
some idea of stopping at a friend’s house in the neighbourhood. A
friend’s house in the neighbourhood!--never were poor beings more
friendless or more unacquainted with a neighbourhood.

We were now at our wits’ ends, and it was too late to even attempt to
make a circuit of the town, in order to smuggle ourselves into the
Austrian territories, which must be at least four or five miles off. The
surrounding mountains seemed calculated to baffle the most experienced
traveller in any effort to get through their passes by night, or even by
day; and what could be done by poor ignorant and forlorn fugitives like

All matters having been deliberately weighed and considered, we resolved
to take our abode in a public-house, at a little distance on the
roadside; and this, we trusted, would be our last night in Bavaria. We
accordingly entered it, and found several decent people. I made our host
understand that our comrade had been taken suddenly ill, that I wished
to get him to bed as soon as we could, and that we preferred remaining
with him to going into town, as it was then late. He politely told us we
should be instantly accommodated.

At about half-past eight we were shown to bed, and were in great
spirits. The next morning would decide our destiny, and we were very
sanguine. We knew it was necessary to be cautious also in Austria, but
considered that the great point would be attained when we should be out
of the power of the Confederation of the Rhine. I confess I sometimes
thought how unfortunate we should be if arrested in the vicinity of the
last Bavarian town, and again conducted back to the horrible _Mansion of
Tears_. I frankly declare, I would have preferred death as the

At the dawn of day on the 17th of October we rose, ordered a cup of
coffee each, and pushed forward with great circumspection for the town
of Reichenhall, and saw very few people moving. Everything, we
imagined, favoured us; but the next moment we discovered a bridge,
which we inevitably must pass; at the end of it was a turnpike and the
Bavarian colours, blue and white, which we were tolerably well
acquainted with. There were two men who appeared at a short distance
from the turnpike. We were on the bridge. The two men entered a house
close to the turnpike. We advanced rapidly. Supposing it to be a most
favourable opportunity, we passed the turnpike very fortunately, and
turned short round to the right, which led us directly as we wished, and
also clear of the town. We then passed another barrier, where there was
not a house to be seen, and being so near to that we just passed, we
conjectured that both were superintended by the same people.

Having anticipated all aggravations of difficulties as we approached the
frontier, we were overjoyed at finding the system of police not so
strict as we expected: we now considered ourselves safe. We advanced a
mile, and thought ourselves in the Austrian territories. Our happiness
was inconceivable. Our dangers, we thought, were over, and we were now
in a country which, though not in alliance with England, had been
subsidised on former occasions to the extent of so many millions by her,
and had so common a cause with us in putting down the general enemy. We
felt almost as if we were at home. So secure were we that we began to be
less attentive to dangers of any sort.

The road became excessively heavy; and, although I had passed through by
far worse roads under more difficult circumstances, my prospects of
triumph made me fastidious or sportive. A cut, or pathway, appeared to
lead through fields in one direction, and I chose to take it, as I
thought it would shorten our distance, while Hewson pursued the
high-road in preference. On looking back, I found that Barklimore was
following my steps a good way behind, though in a short time I entirely
lost sight of Hewson. I had made an obtuse angle, and saved some
distance, and I soon got into the road again; but, to my great
uneasiness, in vain did I look for my friend. I conjectured that,
although he had the longest route, he must have walked so very fast as
to more than make up for the difference; and that, consequently, he was
ahead of me. Presently, to my great astonishment and utter dismay, I
made the woeful discovery that we were still in the Bavarian
territories; for I perceived close to me a turnpike, with the adjacent
house bearing the Bavarian arms. Fortunately, the door was shut, and I
passed it with a palpitating heart, thanking Heaven for my hair-breadth
escape. I then quickened my pace; and, looking back with great anxiety,
to my unspeakable joy I found that Barklimore had passed with equal

I now became exceedingly alarmed for the safety of our friend Hewson,
and concluded that, under the idea that he was in the Austrian
dominions, he might have incautiously approached the barrier we had just
escaped, and have been captured. I stopped to wait Barklimore’s coming
up, that we might counsel what was best to be done. In the midst of our
perplexity and distress, to my unspeakable joy I perceived Hewson a long
way ahead of us, and making towards us with precipitation. How he could
have got so far in advance was to me inexplicable. I hastened towards
him, and expressed my astonishment at his separating from us at such a
critical moment. He briefly retaliated, and said, that as we had cut off
such a large angle by crossing the fields, he naturally concluded that
we were further advanced than himself. But there was no time to be lost
in recriminations; for our danger was extreme. Hewson, with much
trepidation, told us that we were still on Bavarian ground, and that a
short way in advance he had come to the line of demarcation between the
two countries, and at the nearest point of which there was a barrier,
with a guard; and he added, “The Austrian officer had stopped me, and
demanded my passport. With all the presence of mind I could assume,”
said Hewson, “I told him that my companions, who were following me, had
all our papers, and he desired me to wait until you arrived, but I
contrived to elude his vigilance, and have hastened to acquaint you with
our danger.”

We received this woeful intelligence with pallid faces and knit brows,
but our alarm was increased when Hewson continued, “I met the wife of
the man who looks out at yon Bavarian gate, or turnpike, and she asked
me if I had shown my passport and papers to her husband; of course I
answered that I had.”

Here, then, we were in as desperate a situation as any we had ever been
in. Never had we had to contend with dangers more numerous or extreme.
It appeared but too evident to us, that, when the woman told her husband
of what Hewson had stated to her, a pursuit of us would be commenced,
and a hue and cry raised for our apprehension. If the Austrian officer
had refused to let Hewson pass without a passport when he was
unsuspected, it was evident that he would not let us go through when the
Bavarian soldiers were in chase of us. It was hopeless to go directly to
the Austrian guard, confess who and what we were, and surrender
ourselves as prisoners, on the confidence of the amity which had
formerly existed between England and Austria, and of the good feelings
which the Austrians ought to entertain towards the English. Whichever
way we turned, new difficulties presented themselves, and we were
distracted with the thought of being taken after having overcome so many
dangers, travelled so many hundred miles, and arrived at a point at
which even a few yards over an imaginary line of separation might save

I instantly proposed that we should try to elude and pass the Austrian
guard by avoiding the barrier, and crossing the boundary how we could,
at any other point; and then, if we were taken, our last resource would
be to claim the protection of the Austrian officer, as English subjects,
and formerly, though not now, the allies of the emperor. At any risk,
even at the cost of our lives, we were to avoid falling into the hands
of the Bavarians, for then our inevitable fate would be a journey in
chains back to the Mansion of Tears, a trial at Metz, and a sentence to
the galleys.

Not a moment was lost. I surveyed the country, and espied a narrow
pathway that led into a thick wood at the foot of an immense mountain.
Into this by-path we immediately struck, and proceeded as rapidly as the
nature of the track would admit of our using our legs. We expected to be
pursued by the Austrian troops; and our only hope was to get so far into
their territory, that, when captured, they would not think of returning
us to the dreaded Bavarians.

We pursued the route with all possible speed, running, climbing,
crawling, and scrambling, as the nature of the ground admitted or
required, until at length we stopped, out of breath, in the middle of
the wood, and, to our great joy, heard not the sound of a human voice
or footstep in pursuit.

We took breath, and again proceeded. It was impossible to clamber the
immense mountain, for its sides were perfectly inaccessible, and often
to a great height perpendicular; and yet we cast a longing, lingering
look upon its rugged steeps, and thought that if we could only gain one
of its caves or fastnesses, our security would be perfect.

We kept the path through the wood, and in a short time we got a sight of
the high-road; and, to the joy of exhausted lungs and palpitating
hearts, we found that we were full a mile in the rear of the Austrian
barrier. This was indeed happiness: happiness so great, so unexpected,
and so much in contrast with all the circumstances of our previous
position, that we distrusted even our senses that so plainly assured us
of the fact.

We now set firm foot upon the spacious high-road, and were about to
proceed with the elated feelings that made us think we could defy the
world, and laugh at the book of fate or the tricks of the treacherous
and fickle goddess, when, at our first step, a hoarse voice called on us
to surrender, and up sprung four German soldiers from their
hiding-place, behind a rock on the verge of the wood, and each presented
a rifle at our heads. We concluded they were bandits, and had little to
apprehend from them, as we had no property to lose, and knew that such
gentry were not desirous of taking life, when there was no advantage to
be derived from shedding blood. But we were soon undeceived, for whilst
three of the fellows kept the muzzles of their pieces at our heads, the
foremost of them very politely took off his hat to us. This was very
like the scene in _Gil Blas_, when the beggar piteously implored the
traveller, in the name of the Holy Virgin, to drop a marvadie in his
cap, whilst he kept his carbine aimed at his head, as a broad hint of
what he was to suffer if he was uncharitable. But the cases were not in
point, and these turned out to be Austrian soldiers, and the leader
civilly asked us for our passports. I showed him an old pocket-book, and
pretended to look for mine, and which of course I could not find; but I
showed him some envelopes in the German character, which I had provided
for such an emergency. The phlegmatic German sergeant defeated all my
excuses, by simply declaring that he was not a judge in such difficult
cases, not a scholar (in fact, he could not read), and that his duty was
to take us before his officer, pointing to the direction in which we
knew the Austrian barrier lay. “Will you surrender?” said he; and what
option of an answer was left to us in any case, when each had a rifle
presented to his head? “Most willingly,” I replied, “but are we not in
the Emperor’s dominions in _Kaisersland_?” How my heart beat with joy
when he answered the “Yes, Sir,”--_Ya Mynheer_. Never did the sun behold
more willing prisoners. We accompanied our captors to the officer. He
was a young man, and spoke no other language than the German. However,
we comprehended perfectly that he was displeased at our attempting to
elude him and the guard. He examined us, and we made him understand as
well as we could, “That we were Americans, who had escaped from the
Danes at Altona, and were making the best of our way to Trieste, where
we expected to procure a passage to our native country.” He desired one
of his soldiers to go and inform the Bavarian at the next barrier that
he wanted him. This circumstance occasioned me much uneasiness. I
endeavoured to learn from him if he intended to send us to Salzburg. He
said we should be conveyed to that city immediately. We were much
pleased at this intelligence, as we dreaded being given up to the
Bavarian, who now had arrived, and was astonished when the officer told
him that he had let us pass without examining or interrogating us. Our
_friend_ from the barrier was excessively nettled at the information,
and, had we been handed over to his tender mercies, he would have amply
revenged himself for the manner in which our success had exposed him to
the taunts of the officer of the rival nation.


     Our arrival at Salzburg--The Director of Police--Perseverance in
     our tale of being Americans--Suspected of being spies--Austrian
     feelings favourable towards England and Englishmen--Confession of
     the truth--Treated well as English officers--An excellent inn--A
     kind governor--Great civility--Despatches from Vienna--Passports
     ordered for us--A remittance of money from Vienna--Passports for
     Trieste--Our journey--German students and dog
     Latin--Clagenfurt--Laibach--Banditti--A mountain scene--An Irish
     watch-fire--Arrival at Trieste--Ecstasies at beholding the Gulf and
     the English frigate in the offing--Our embarkation--Picked up by
     the _Amphion’s_ boat--An old friend and shipmate--Discovering an
     enemy--A desperate and unsuccessful fight--The killed and
     wounded--Shot through the right arm--Valour of Lieut. G. M.
     Jones--His wound--Excessive kindness of the _Amphion’s_ captain and
     officers--The _Spider_ brig--Corfu--Malta--Sir Alex.
     Ball--Unexpected meeting with old friends escaped from
     Bitche--Promoted to a lieutenancy in the _Warrior_ (a
     seventy-four)--The glories of the naval service opened to me.

We had now reached about the noon of the 17th of October 1808, when an
escort or guard was appointed for our custody, and we were put upon our
march for Salzburg. Our fate depended on what might be the momentary
disposition of the Austrian Government towards England and America. We
resolved to persevere in our American fiction, if nothing arose to
induce us to the contrary. At about two we arrived at Salzburg. This is
a fine fortified city, the capital of the duchy of Salzburg, with a
strong castle on the mountain. It has a university, and two noble
palaces. The town lies on both sides of the river Salza, and is situated
between three mountains. The buildings of the town were very remarkable,
but we were not in a humour, or under circumstances, to attend to such
subjects, or to indulge in the taste of amateurs.

We were conducted to one building, the town house, where we were put
under strict interrogatories by the Director of the Police. Our
inquisitor, however, was a well-bred, gentlemanly officer, and he spoke
four languages with great fluency.

He first asked us in French, what countrymen we were. We would not
understand him. He then put to us the same question both in Italian and
German: we were equally ignorant. He next asked us our country in
English. Now we understood him, and promptly answered that we were

“How have you contrived,” he demanded, “to enter the Emperor of
Austria’s dominions without regular passports? You will be considered as

I laconically asked him, Whether spies would not furnish themselves with
passports, in order to facilitate their designs? and I further asked
him, What knowledge of a country could be obtained by spies, in our
destitute condition and humble class of life? We had not a sheet of
paper or a black-lead pencil amongst us, and were, in point of money,

This gentleman seemed struck by these obvious truths, but he insisted
upon our giving some account of ourselves.

I was the spokesman, and I replied as follows: “We belonged,” I said,
“to an American ship which was taken by the Danes (under the Berlin and
Milan decrees) for having been boarded and overhauled by two English
frigates in the English Channel, on her passage to the Baltic.[31] Our
names,” I added, “are Manuel (_alias_ Hewson), chief mate; Henderson,
surgeon (_alias_ Barklimore); and myself, Lincoln, who unfortunately
happened to be a passenger.”

He then requested that each of us would make out, in writing, a regular
specification of who and what we were, and bring it to him the next
morning. He should send us to a tavern for the night, and requested we
would not stir from it without his permission. He expressed also his
astonishment at our having crossed the Continent without being able to
speak any other language than English, and added, _That if we were even
Englishmen, we had nothing to fear from the Austrian Government_. My
God! I never felt more happy than at hearing these words--how they
soothed my mind! I however feigned not to comprehend him perfectly, that
my ears might again hear them repeated; and my heart rebounded with joy
when he reiterated that, were we English, we should have nothing to fear
from the Austrians. I felt so confident that a man in his station would
not tell an untruth, that I was actually on the point of declaring who
and what we really were. However, I governed myself and restrained my
desire to relate the truth, although I am at a loss to explain how I was
able to do so; and, turning to my companions, I observed that we had
better proceed to the tavern, as we were very much fatigued. The
Director ordered a sergeant to show us the way. We took a cordial leave
of this worthy old gentleman, and followed our guide.

At the tavern we were received as American travellers, and had an
excellent supper and good beds; we felt superlatively happy. What a vast
difference between our present situation and that of only a few hours
before, when between the two barriers!

The next morning (Tuesday the 18th) we rose early, and endeavoured to
dress ourselves as well as we could--at least, as well as our tattered
garments would admit of; so we procured a change of linen, and prepared
to wait on the Director. We agreed to continue the American story, until
we could be well assured of the disposition of the Austrian Government
towards Englishmen. At ten we visited the Director, who again expressed
great astonishment at our travelling with such success so great a
distance, and wondered that we had nothing whatever about us to certify
that we were Americans. “Mr. Manuel” was at the same time writing his
declaration. The old gentleman again observed to me that there were
frequently Englishmen passing through Salzburg, who had escaped from
France, and who always found an asylum in Austria. I paid very great
attention to this important information. The chief mate had now finished
his declaration; and “Mr. Lincoln, passenger,” was to begin next. I
really could not reconcile it to myself to draw up a false declaration,
especially as it appeared that we ran no risk in declaring the truth;
and I therefore pointed out to the others the consequences that such a
step might occasion, with the certainty of being found out, as no doubt
the court of Vienna would make every necessary inquiry, through their
consul at Altona, before they would pay any credit to our statement. The
result of this would of course be that we should be found impostors, and
perhaps not be believed when we declared what we were in reality. Making
a virtue of necessity was our best policy. They both agreed that my
remarks were just; and I was requested by them to take the old gentleman
aside, and make him acquainted with the whole of the circumstances. I
accordingly did so, and proved to him by a certificate,[32] which I kept
always sewed up in my clothes, that we were British officers. He said it
had appeared to him at first sight that we were English
prisoners-of-war, who had escaped from the French. I related the whole
of our history. He regretted much that he could not instantly grant us
passports, since it was necessary to acquaint the Government at Vienna,
and have their sanction, but he said we should have an answer in fifteen
days at most; and he jocosely added, “You have been five years nearly in
France, so you cannot have any objection to remain amongst us for a few
days.” He was excessively kind; and I could not avoid communicating to
him that our finances were reduced to the lowest ebb. The kind old man
soon comforted me on this score, by stating that, whilst we were
detained, the Austrian Government would allow us a certain sum per diem,
in proportion to our respective ranks. He begged that we would make
ourselves as comfortable as possible at our inn, told us to dismiss all
care and anxiety from our minds, and requested, rather than ordered us,
to keep ourselves within doors, until we heard further from him.

We took our leave most respectfully and gratefully; and as we returned
to the tavern, we could not help contrasting this urbanity and kindness
with the brutal severity which it had been our unhappy lot to experience
for so many years. The effect of kindness towards the distressed is to
elevate the character of those that bestow and those that receive it.

Mr. Hewson, this evening, wrote to his friend Mr. Concannon, at Vienna,
who had been a _détenu_ in Verdun and obtained his liberty (this
gentleman was subsequently member for Coventry), to beg him to use his
influence with the authorities in our behalf.

The Director sent daily his compliments “to the American gentlemen (for
out of policy towards France we were still considered under this
character), and requested to know how we were;” and the landlady and
waiters declared, that, until they had seen _us_, they had imagined that
all Americans were negroes. In the dusk of the evening we sometimes
contrived to steal out and reconnoitre the town and suburbs; and I had
fixed on a plan of escape, in the event of the Austrian Government
coming to a resolution to give us up to the cruel and hated enemy.
Perhaps the suspicion was not very worthy of us, and could only be
justified by what we had suffered at the hands of the French.

We had been ten days and nights in this sort of indulgent durance, when,
on the eleventh morning, before we were out of bed, an officer rapped at
our door, and told us that the Director wished to see one of us
immediately. Hewson sprang out of bed, dressed himself quickly, and
obeyed the summons. During our friend’s absence, Barklimore and myself
were in a state of great perplexity. It rushed into my mind that the
French or Bavarian governments might have demanded us from the
Austrians. This apprehension overwhelmed me; but I concealed my
emotions, strong as they were, from my friend, who at the time was
suffering greatly from fever and ague.

Hewson shortly returned, and his countenance soon dissipated all our
apprehensions, for his joy was so excessive that in vain did he
endeavour to put on dismal looks in order to worry us. With an assumed
air of sorrow, he told us that he much feared we were to be sent back to
France. But we were not so ignorant of physiognomy that we could not
perceive that he was almost bursting with some happy intelligence. At
last he congratulated us that we were at length free men--our liberty
was secured as firmly as if we had taken “a bond from Fate.” In fact,
the Director had received a despatch from Vienna, in which the Austrian
Government had acknowledged us as English subjects and officers, and in
which they had directed him to give us passports to proceed wherever we
pleased; and the Director added that we were now at liberty, and that we
might quit the town that day if we wished. Good and gracious God! what
intelligence to people who have been nearly five years in severe and
bitter slavery! We sprang out of bed, fell on our knees, and, with
hearts full of gratitude to our Great Creator for His unbounded mercies
and goodness, we greeted each other as free people.

We instantly agreed to wait upon our worthy friend, the Director, and
evince to him how grateful we were for his attention and kindness. He
received us in the most handsome manner, and appeared as much elated as
if he had been in our situation. He wished to know how we meant to
travel to Trieste? We answered, on foot, as our finances were low;
though we dreaded the doctor’s incapacity, his last fever having been so
severe that he had been bled and blistered several times; but he was now
somewhat better, though weak.

Our passport for Trieste was, during this time, making out, and in half
an hour we were to return for it. In the meantime we went back to the
tavern to make the necessary preparations, and get some breakfast. It
was a luxurious meal. The moment we entered, the landlord presented us
with an answer to Mr. Hewson’s letter, from his friend at Vienna. It
informed us of the success that had attended our application at that
city, with respect to our passports, and contained an order on his
banker at Salzburg, to supply us with what money we might deem necessary
to defray our expenses to Trieste, and enable us to travel with ease and
comfort. Providence appeared too bountiful. We waited on the banker, got
the sum necessary, and called on the worthy Director to give him the
intelligence. He appeared much pleased, congratulated us on our success,
and ordered our passports to be made out to go by the diligence. This
proved very fortunate for our sick companion.

The hour of departure arrived; and now behold us in the diligence, free
from all terrors, and elated to the highest pitch at the consciousness
that we were on the road to the margin of the sea, where we should once
more behold “The meteor flag of England,” and have it again waving over
our heads.

Our journey was interesting. The first night we had to pass through
intricate roads amidst immense mountains covered with snow. The
appearance of the inhabitants was in unison with the scenery. They were
grotesque in dress, and seemed wild. The guard of the diligence was
inclined to be insolent, and evidently abetted the innkeepers in their
“tricks upon travellers”--tricks of extortion. However, at the fourth
stage we got rid of this bad specimen of Nature’s workmanship, for we
were removed from the diligence, and put into a waggon, which took us to
Villach, and thence to Clagenfurt. The waggon was without springs, and,
over the rough mountainous roads, we were jolted almost to death. Our
sick friend must have suffered dreadfully; but he bore his pains with
his usual fortitude and self-command.

In the waggon we were eight in number; our companions were boys who were
returning to the university after the vacation. They annoyed us much
with their colloquial or dog Latin; and the young rogues made us the
subject of their jokes and satire, on the supposition that we could not
understand them.

At Clagenfurt we found that we had missed our road to Trieste by several
leagues, owing to those who had inspected our passports at Villach not
having given us the necessary information. At first we were informed
that we must go back to that town to have the error rectified; but, upon
explaining the difficulties and hardships that attended retracing our
steps, the authorities very kindly did away with every difficulty, and
we retired to the Golden Sun tavern, where we had supper and beds.

We were here apprised that we had better perform the next day’s journey
on foot, as the mountains were so excessively high that if we had a
carriage we should be obliged to walk the greater part of the way. This
information made us determine to proceed on foot the next morning; and
we accordingly rose at daybreak (Sunday, 30th October), and commenced
our journey. Such mountains as we passed this day I never before beheld.
We walked twelve leagues before seven in the afternoon, six of them
almost ascending perpendicularly, and the remaining six descending in
the opposite direction--the great road was zig-zag, but we did not keep
to it. We at last arrived at a small post-town, at the foot of a
prodigious precipice. After getting some refreshments, we took post for
Laibach, and travelled all night. At daybreak we entered the town, and
immediately proceeded to a tavern where we got beds, and retired for a
few hours to rest. Our passport was taken to the Director of Police to
be inspected. At about nine he sent for us, asked us a few questions,
and returned our passport properly endorsed and certified.

On the 31st of October, at ten, we took post for Trieste, and arrived on
the 4th of November, at about eight o’clock, after a most tedious,
harassing, and vexatious journey. The reader who traces the distance on
the map or the _itinéraire_, and calculates the time of our going over
the ground, will understand the vast difference, even at that time,
between English travelling, and travelling on the Continent.

On the night after quitting Laibach we had a very high and precipitous
mountain to ascend; and our horses being of the most sorry breed of
cattle, I dismounted, and took a short cut up the mountain. At eleven at
night I saw an immense bonfire at a distance from the road I was on. A
number of people were collected round it. Not a house was in view; the
carriage was at least four miles below me; and as the road was a perfect
zig-zag, the wild character of the mountain scenery made me hesitate to
approach the spot. At last I got so near that I was discovered, and two
men ran towards me. I had no right to expect courtesy, or decency, or
even safety, in such a wilderness, and the fellows rudely asked me in
German who and what I was. In broken German I told them that I did not
understand what they said, and I asked if they spoke French. They
answered “No.” The whole scene was so awfully wild that it was worthy of
the pencil of Salvator Rosa; and even his pencil could not have done
justice to it. “Do you speak Italian?” said I, and a fierce “No” was my
only satisfaction. At last I ejaculated, “Do you speak English?” and, to
my utter astonishment, both vociferated the English “Yes,” with the
addition “perfectly well.” I was thunderstruck at the reply; for who
would have expected to find the English language on a bleak and barren
mountain in this part of the world? I found that one of the men was a
native Irishman, and that the other was a German that had been long in
the British service. Our countryman, Paddy,--for my companions were also
Irish,--informed me, with a revival of the brogue, which he had
forgotten, or flattered himself that he had forgotten for many years,
that the mountains were so infested with banditti, that he and his party
were posted there to arrest depredators and protect travellers. I must
confess that I thought that these robber-catchers had taken a rather odd
method of pursuing their vocation; as their huge bonfire exposed their
watch-station, and consequently enabled the banditti to avoid them, and
perpetrate their crimes with impunity. Perhaps the Hibernian had
engrafted on the Germans the genius (generally considered indigenous)
of his country for such sort of mistakes. At length the carriage came
up, and, jumping into it, I bade a long adieu to such strange
mountaineer policemen, after giving them a trifle that we could but
badly afford.

I need not dwell on the pleasure we felt this morning at beholding the
gulf of Trieste, and the ships and vessels lying in the harbour, amongst
which was a Russian squadron, consisting of four sail of the line, one
frigate, and a store-ship. We also discovered a ship at anchor some
leagues out, which, to our very great satisfaction, we were informed was
his Britannic Majesty’s frigate the _Unité_, Captain Campball, who, they
said, blockaded that port. This was the most welcome news imaginable. We
were now certain of being able to join our native flag; how did my heart
pant to be afloat on the ocean, and under the English standard! Compared
to that summit of liberty, even my present security and recent freedom
of travelling seemed to me as slavery.

We waited on the Director of police, who received us with great
politeness, and had us conducted to the first tavern in the town;
requesting that we would still say we were Americans. A Borea, or N.E.
wind, which in the Adriatic is most violent, was then setting in: he
assured us it would be impossible to get embarked until the gale abated,
but that he would render us every assistance in due time. There was a
gentleman named Danolan (who had formerly been the English vice-consul)
then in town. We waited on him, and he proved in every sense of the word
a real friend; he engaged to get us embarked, supplied us with cash, and
offered us to remain at his house if we wished: his wife was equally
polite and attentive. The inclemency of the weather was the only thing
at this moment that prevented our happiness being complete.

We returned to the tavern, and passed our moments as comfortably as
possible under existing circumstances; dined at the table d’hôte with
the Russian officers of the squadron, who at first, I imagine, supposed
that we actually were Americans, but afterwards, from a number of
insinuations thrown out by them, and the marked attention they paid us,
I became confident that they had discovered what we were.

Notwithstanding the severity of the weather, Hewson and myself ascended
an adjacent height, when our breasts expanded and our minds glowed at
the sight of the Adriatic. Our concealment in woods, and terrors at
towns, our swampy beds, drenched backs, and starved stomachs, were most
pleasurable reminiscences, when we felt that they had led us to the
“high top gallant of our joy,” and that we now saw our glorious element,
with a little frigate under old England’s flag, blockading the port, and
keeping the whole line of coast in awe. The marine of this coast, I
verily believe, thought that they might as easily fight the devil
himself as attempt to compete with an English squadron.[33] Let us
reflect upon this immense distance from the arsenals and resources of
England, and then shall we see that never had a nation established such
an irresistible superiority over all enemies, as England had consummated
by her naval triumphs, and by her naval economy and management. Thrice
happily did we hail our glorious country, as we saw her flag triumphant
on the wave.

On Monday night, the 7th November, the weather became moderate, the
English frigate got under weigh, and I feared that she might be quitting
her station. So anxious was I to be once more on a quarter-deck, that it
never occurred to me that the blockade could not be raised, and, that if
she left, another must resume the station. We repaired to our friend Mr.
Danolan, who assured us that he had provided all things for our
departure; and, by his arrangement, by half-past eight we had embarked,
and in a short time we were clear of the harbour. However, a few minutes
before we embarked I put into the post-office a letter directed to my
friends Tuthill and Ashworth, in the real German character, giving them
a minute detail of the course we had taken, and all particulars relative
to our successes, which they fortunately received, and which afterwards
enabled them to escape.

We rowed towards the point where I had calculated we should find the
English frigate; but, to our mortification, we were disappointed. When
the moon was up we weighed, and stood out for her; but, to the grief of
my heart, we could not fall in with her. I concealed all the tortures of
my mind, lest I should afflict my comrades.

We kept rowing in different directions, on a sort of forlorn hope, until
daybreak, when we observed a man-of-war’s boat pulling right down for
us. It ran alongside of us, and asked in English what we were. I sprang
up at hearing the English language, and, with inexpressible joy, saw
that it was a British ship-of-war’s boat. I answered that we were three
British subjects who had escaped from a French prison. Having been
informed that it was the _Amphion’s_ boat, I assured the officer we
should be very happy to quit our present conveyance, and take a passage
with him to the frigate. He replied, “The ship is at present at a
considerable distance off; I shall not return until eight o’clock.” I
answered that that was of little consequence; two of us belonged to the
navy, and we would willingly take a cruise along the coast with him, if
he had no objection. “Very well,” was his rejoinder. So we paid our
boatmen, dismissed them, and had the happiness of being once more under
our proper colours, and on our own element.

Upon turning round, and looking at the officer who commanded the boat,
how excessive were my surprise and joy when I instantly recognised
Lieutenant Jones, an old friend and shipmate of 1802. I immediately made
myself known to him, and this excellent fellow exultingly expressed his
gladness that he should have been the officer that had had the good
fortune of picking us up.

I was astonished at finding that the _Amphion_, instead of the _Unité_
frigate, was the ship lying at anchor off Trieste. Lieutenant Jones
cleared the point up by stating that the _Amphion_ had arrived only that
night, and that his Majesty’s ship _L’Unité_ had weighed and stood lower
down the gulf. Strange was it that my old ship and friend should arrive
on the very night that the weather favoured our embarkation from

This morning, November the 8th, 1808, I shall never forget. We felt in
perfect security, and were amusing ourselves by narrating anecdotes of
our escape, recalling to mind the horrors of the “Mansion of Tears,” and
in indulging hopes in favour of our friends within its walls, when at
eight o’clock our amusement was put an end to by the discovery of two
strange sail under Capo d’Istria. We took them for enemy’s
merchant-vessels, stealing along shore. Lieutenant Jones made directly
towards them. One we soon perceived was full of men, and was
endeavouring to separate from the other, and to pull closer in shore.
She had the appearance of a row-boat, whilst her companion was larger,
and was rigged like a _trabaccolo_, or schooner, under Venetian colours.
We concluded that the greater part of the crew had abandoned her, and
were endeavouring to get on shore in the row-boat.

The disparity of force was immense, and every circumstance was against
us; but, although we were only in a frigate’s yawl (a very small boat
comparatively), our gallant officer without hesitation resolved to
board, and make a hand to hand affair of it. The odds were sadly against
us. Who can conceive my pride and elation when I thus found myself
participating in the glories of my profession, and reflected how short a
time had elapsed since I had been either a prisoner in a dungeon, or a
sort of Nebuchadnezzar wandering in the fields and forests. My good
fortune was excessive, in being thus, as it were at a tangent, thrust
into active service,--a ship’s cutlass, a black musket, were good
substitutes for my chains and padlock; and I acted a marine’s part on
this occasion.

We fired several shots to bring the enemy to, which the trabaccolo
returned with compound interest, by letting fly at us from a four or
six pounder. Our gallant little band gave way, _i.e._ pulled towards the
enemy. We could not perceive many men on her deck, but those that were
there kept up a smart fire. At length we got alongside, in the right
English style, when upwards of twenty men suddenly showed themselves,
with an officer at their head, decorated with the Legion of Honour, at
whom I discharged my musket, which I believe took fatal effect. But at
the moment I received a musketoon ball in my right arm, that disabled
it. They poured into us a volley from muskets, musketoons,
blunderbusses, etc. Our bowman and another sailor fell dead; three other
seamen dropt from their wounds, and Green Dick, the pilot, one of them,
died the next day. Jones was also severely wounded. Our little party was
thus sadly thinned. The other vessel, seeing how few were our numbers,
and how much they had been decreased, made towards the trabaccolo with
twenty-two men. We had no alternative, but were under the necessity of
sheering off, and it was only to their dastardly conduct that we
remained indebted for not being again made prisoners. The frigate was
not then in sight, and the confused state of our little crew, two killed
and five wounded, including our brave and gallant officer, would have
rendered us no difficult conquest to so superior a force, had they but
persevered in the attack. Our retreat was covered by the musket of only
_one_ marine, whose name was Hunt; I supplied him with cartridges as
fast as he could load and fire, biting them off and giving them with my
left hand to him. My friend, Barklimore, was of essential service to us,
in binding up our wounds with handkerchiefs, etc., for there were not a
sufficient number of _tourniquets_. My worthy comrade, Hewson, also
greatly distinguished himself as one of the boarders, and afterwards by
tugging at the oar to facilitate our escape.

Lieutenant Jones never made the slightest complaint, nor did he let any
one know that he was wounded, until we were well clear of the enemy,
although it proved to be a most painful and dangerous wound which he had
received; he had also several musket-balls through the crown of his hat.
My wound, through the right arm, as I have observed, disabled it so that
I never fully recovered the strength of it.[34]

At about half-past twelve, or noon, we got alongside my good old ship,
towed by her launch, which they sent out on noticing from the mast-head
our disabled state. We were hoisted on board in a chair, with the utmost
care, the captain and officers evincing much anxiety towards us, and
vieing with each other in offices of kindness. The other two worthy
lieutenants of the _Amphion_, Messrs. Bennet and Phillott, had been on
board of her in my time, and thus was I at home amongst old friends and
shipmates. I had not been heard of for many years, and all that my
brother-officers knew of me was, that I was a prisoner in a French gaol;
judge, therefore, what was their astonishment, when in hoisting in the
wounded they found a stranger, and recognised that stranger to be me. It
seemed to them that I must have dropt from the clouds, for they could
form no conjecture how I came amongst them.

Captain Hoste, though unknown to me, behaved like a parent, and his very
great humanity will never be erased from my grateful recollection;
although he confessed upon my first appearance, he was prejudiced
against me, for he had imagined that I had been the chief of the vessel
Mr. Jones had attacked, and who had done all the mischief to this
officer and his crew. His clerk gave me up his cabin. Mr. Moffat, the
surgeon, and his assistant, Mr. Angus, treated us with the greatest care
and tenderness. The ball, it appeared, having divided the muscles, had
completely laid bare the artery of my arm, grazing without lacerating
it, but so much so, that both of the surgeons, in the first instance,
were of opinion that amputation was unavoidable. My habits for a long
time had been so abstemious that my system was free from any
inflammatory tendency; and to this, I suppose, I may owe my recovering
without suffering the loss of my limb. The whole of the officers were
zealous in affording us every solace and succour that could be expected
by people in our miserable condition, from their generous countrymen.

Sixteen days elapsed, through most of which I had been confined to my
cot. My arm was getting better rapidly, and glad was I to be informed
that Jones was as quickly recovering of his wound. I embraced an
opportunity given me during this period of sixteen days, by a merchant
from Trieste coming on board, to have a letter sent, agreeably to
promise, to the commandant at Lindau, dated “on board H. M. frigate,
_Amphion_, now blockading the port of Trieste,” assuring him how happy I
should be, if ever any opportunity presented itself, of my having it in
my power to convince him that I entertained no vindictive feeling for
the unnecessary severity that I had received at his hand.

H.M. brig _Spider_, commanded by Lieutenant Sandford Oliver, now joined
us from Malta, with orders. She was to return at once, and as I felt
full of anxiety to join the commander-in-chief, off Toulon, or proceed
to England, I got from the surgeon an assurance that there could be no
danger in my being removed. Captain Hoste kindly yielded to my
solicitations to be allowed to take a passage in the _Spider_, though he
added, in the most friendly manner, that if I preferred it, I might
remain with him, until he went down to Malta with a convoy which he
shortly expected. Hewson and I expressed our fear of missing our
promotion, having lost so many years in consequence of our captivity: he
approved of our wishes, and gave us a letter of introduction and
recommendation to Sir Alexander Ball, who was port-admiral and governor
of Malta. We took a cordial leave of all our worthy friends in the
_Amphion_, were conveyed to the _Spider_, and in a short time got under
weigh, standing down the gulf.

Off Corfu I had the satisfaction of seeing the French flag struck, for
the first time after a number of years: the _Spider_ took a bombard (a
vessel with a kind of cutter-rig), laden with wool and gregos
(greatcoats). On the 8th of December we arrived at Malta, and in
consequence of this capture were put into quarantine.

In the meantime, H.M. ship _Woolwich_ was about to sail to England with
a convoy. Admiral Ball had ordered Barklimore a passage in her; but she
unfortunately got out to sea before we could procure him a conveyance.
However, he was put on board a transport belonging to the convoy, and
arrived safe in England. H.M. ship _Proserpine_ was the next day to
proceed off Toulon, to Lord Collingwood; and had we not been in
quarantine, it was the intention of Sir Alexander Ball to have sent us
on board. The _Proserpine_ was taken by the French; therefore we had to
felicitate ourselves on our fifth escape from a French prison. We were
ten days before we got out of quarantine; and on the same day the
_Amphion_ arrived. H.M. ship _Leonidas_ was on the point of sailing to
the fleet;[35] Sir Alexander Ball ordered us a passage, and everything
was arranged for joining the commander-in-chief off Toulon with all
possible expedition.

Prior to our going on board the _Leonidas_, we went off to take leave of
our good friends on board the _Amphion_. Imagine what were our
astonishment and joy when the first person we saw on arriving on her
deck was the companion of our flight, our brother-sufferer Batley, whom,
from his lameness and ill-health, we had been obliged to leave at the
public-house in Baden. Happily for him, he was picked up off Trieste,
and only a few days after we had sailed in the _Spider_. When our mutual
congratulations were over, he briefly related to us the following
particulars of his adventures and fate:--

“The people with whom you had left me in the small village behaved with
great attention, as did likewise the old shoemaker. As soon as I was
perfectly recovered, I quitted them and directed my course towards
Austria; but on the second or third day I was arrested near Elsingen, in
Wirtemberg, and thrown into prison, where I remained five weeks. They
had written to inform the French Government that they had me in
custody; however, before an escort (which they expected) arrived from
France, to conduct me back, I fortunately effected my escape by breaking
out of my gaol.”

I need not observe what sincere pleasure we felt at this recital of his
success, or how extreme was our joy at thus falling in with our so long
lost companion.

We were the first party that had succeeded in escaping from the
dreadfully strong and well-guarded fortress of Bitche. All our friends
of the _Amphion_ were excessively delighted to see us, and Captain Hoste
did everything in his power to forward our wishes.

We took an affectionate leave of them, and embarked on board the
_Leonidas_. The wind, though not fair, was not a barrier to our
departure, for she sailed like a witch; and in four days we arrived at
Minorca. There we changed ships, and embarked on H.M. sloop
_Kingfisher_, for a passage to Gibraltar, to which place it was
calculated that Lord Collingwood had repaired, in his flag-ship the
_Ocean_, having parted from the body of his fleet in a severe easterly

We proceeded in the _Kingfisher_ as low as Malaga, where we fell in with
the _Weazle_ brig, Captain Prescott, who informed us that, owing to a
change of wind, Lord Collingwood had put his helm up for Malta, where he
intended to repair the damages which he had sustained in the gale. We
therefore returned to Minorca, received fresh despatches, and in five
days arrived at Malta, and joined Lord Collingwood in the _Ocean_. We
had, in a few days, the unspeakable satisfaction of seeing five more of
our fellow-sufferers, all of whom had succeeded in escaping from Bitche,
in consequence of the letter I had written from Trieste, pointing out
the course we had taken. Among these were my brothers in adversity,
Tuthill and Brine. Ashworth had escaped, but had not yet arrived.[36]
The French considered Bitche their stronghold for English prisoners, and
greatly must they have been annoyed and mortified at so many having
triumphed over their force, ingenuity, and vigilance.[37]

Lord Collingwood received us very kindly, and asked us several questions
as to our proceedings and designs. He set us to do duty as midshipmen on
board the _Ocean_, and left Malta for Palermo. We then fell in with the
fleet off Minorca, and accompanied it to Toulon, which port we blockaded
until the 28th of March, 1809. I frequently had the honour of dining
with his lordship, who had the kindness to have me seated near him, and
to assist me in carving, as my arm was so weak, and still in a sling.
His lordship laughed heartily at my informing him that I had written to
the commandant at Lindau agreeably to my promise.

At this time I was overwhelmed with melancholy, and even the joy of my
escape seemed to desert me. I had lost five years of my life at its most
valuable period, in French prisons, and the thought of bringing up so
long an arrear of time in the service was most disheartening. Had I not
been captured I should, ere this, if I had lived, have been at least a
lieutenant, if not a commander--trusting to opportunities to distinguish
myself for further promotion. Now, at my age, I was only a midshipman.

These gloomy thoughts, however, were soon relieved, for Lord Collingwood
appointed me the next day, the 29th, to a lieutenancy in a court-martial
vacancy in the _Warrior_, Captain J. W. Spranger.


     Receiving a lieutenancy--Lord Collingwood’s kindness--Joining the
     _Warrior_--An unexpected supply of dollars--An accident at
     sea--Capture of Ischia and Procida--Expedition against the Ionian
     Isles--Joining the _Amphion_--Captain Hoste’s activity in the
     Adriatic--Commodore Dubourdieu and his squadron at Ancona--Chasing
     the enemy--A wild-goose pursuit--Success at last--A glorious battle
     and a splendid victory--Details of the action of Lissa--My return
     to England--Interview with the First Lord of the Admiralty--A visit
     to Ireland--A solicitation from Captain Hoste to join the
     _Bacchante_ as first lieutenant--Revisiting the
     Mediterranean--Provoking the enemy--They provoking us--A
     capture--Unhappy loss of prizes--An inexplicable
     accident--Extraordinary explosion of a French frigate--A flag of
     truce--Venice--Corfu--Capture of flotilla.

His lordship presented to me my lieutenancy in the handsomest manner
possible. He paid me many compliments, and expressed his regret that
this had been the first opportunity he had had of bestowing a commission
in his own gift; adding that he cheerfully gave it to me as some
reparation for my sufferings, and as a reward of my enterprise and
fortitude. His lordship warmly expressed his approbation of my conduct
during the time I had been under his immediate command; and rewards as
well as praise were doubly valuable from a veteran officer, so highly
and so justly celebrated for his nautical skill and consummate valour.
His lordship cordially wished me every possible success in the service;
and to his order, to repair on board the _Warrior_, he jocosely added,
“I suppose your luggage can be easily conveyed to your ship.” To this
supposition I as laconically replied that a stocking would be sufficient
to contain everything I possessed.

But my gratitude to this great and good man, for his paternal kindness
to me since I had been on board the _Ocean_, was so powerful as to
overwhelm expression, and the recollections of all the friendly feelings
that had been evinced towards me by Captain Thomas, and every officer of
the ship, rushed upon my mind irresistibly; and it was not without great
and many efforts that I prevented my feelings exhibiting themselves by
what might have been called a weak and feminine, though a natural,
ebullition of intense emotions. It was some time before I could command
myself sufficiently to express to his lordship my deep and heartfelt
sense of his kindness and patronage. A period of twenty-nine years has
not diminished, in the slightest degree, the gratitude which had then
nearly overpowered me.

I was taken on board the _Warrior_ by one of her boats, under the
command of Lieutenant David Dunn. No sooner was I seated in the boat,
than the coxswain, touching his hat, informed me that a bag of dollars
had been just handed in for my use. This was an act of timely and
generous friendship, greatly enhanced by the delicacy with which it had
been contrived. It immediately occurred to me from whom this good
feeling and liberality had emanated. The Hon. William Waldegrave (now a
post-captain) was then one of the lieutenants on board the _Ocean_. He
had evinced a very friendly feeling towards me, and, previously to my
leaving the ship, had suggested to me the necessity of my being
provided with a certain sum of money for the purpose of settling with my
predecessor on taking his place, for what he may have paid in advance
for table expenses and contingencies to the mess. I replied to Mr.
Waldegrave that my friend Captain Hoste had had the extraordinary
kindness to give me _carte blanche_ permission to draw on his banker at
Malta for any money I might stand in need of. But he had not been put
off by my answer; on opening the bag I found myself supplied amply, or
even profusely; and there was a friendly letter, in which he told me
that when I should have a surplus of prize-money, I might pay his
present advance to his banker. I need not say that I scrupulously, and
with the greatest pleasure, fulfilled this duty.

Arrived on board the _Warrior_, I was introduced to Captain Spranger,
who received me politely, and, at the same time, I was informed by the
mate of the deck that it was now my watch. I was also introduced to my
brother officers, all of whom appeared to be cordial and polite. Dinner
was now announced, and after quickly despatching what there was, I sent
for the ship’s tailor to equip me for my new rank, by metamorphosing a
midshipman’s into a lieutenant’s uniform; and, having borrowed a coat
from Mr. Dunn for the interim, I ascended to the quarter-deck, and
immediately received “the _Orders_,” and took the command of the watch.

As Mr. Dunn was much taller and stouter than myself, I cut rather a
ludicrous figure in his uniform, a figure not often seen on the
quarter-deck of one of his Majesty’s ships-of-war; but an officer in
command of the watch, on board of a man-of-war, more especially when in
a line of battle, has his attention so entirely absorbed by things of
importance that he has no time to reflect on his personal appearance,
whether it be such as to gratify his pride, or to mortify his vanity.

The following morning, Captain Spranger appointed me the signal
lieutenant, and this relieved me of all duty at night, except when
signals were to be made.

In the afternoon of the ensuing day, 31st March, when our division of
the fleet was in the act of wearing together by signal, the _Renown_ and
the _Warrior_ ran foul of each other, which occasioned us so much damage
that we began to leak a good deal. We, however, gained on the leak, and
having made all possible despatch in refitting, accompanied Sir John
Stuart in the expedition to the Bay of Naples, and were present and
co-operated at the capture of the islands of Ischia and Procida. In the
autumn we had the sole conducting of the expedition, under
Brigadier-General Oswald, against the Ionian Islands, and succeeded in
capturing Zante, Cephalonia, Ithaca, and Cerigo.

We next repaired to Malta to refit, and afterwards joined the fleet off
Minorca. Our ship being found to be in a defective state, Lord
Collingwood sent her for a short cruise off Cape San Sebastian, with
orders then to repair to Malta, and take the April convoy to England.

On our arrival at Malta, I was overjoyed to find the _Amphion_. My old
friend, Lieutenant Jones, came to inform me that my friend and old
shipmate, Charles George Rodney Phillott, the first lieutenant, had been
promoted for distinguished services, and, with his usual zeal and
friendship, he expressed his hope that I might be appointed to fill his
vacancy. After a communication with Captain Spranger, I addressed
myself to Captain Hoste, and notwithstanding the applications to him
were so numerous, and so highly backed, I succeeded in my object, and on
2nd March, with a cheerful heart and full of hope, I joined the
_Amphion_, and became the third or junior lieutenant. My friend Jones
became the first, whilst Mr. William Slaughter, whom I succeeded, was
now the second lieutenant.

As my desires were for the most active service, I was now in a fair way
of having them fully gratified. On the 27th Captain Hoste resumed his
station in the Adriatic. The enemy’s naval force was now rapidly
increasing in the ports both of Venice and Ancona, and it was evident
that the French Emperor was about to make an effort, either to inflict
some serious injury on our commerce, or to interrupt our naval
superiority in the Adriatic. Our little squadron was in incessant
activity; and although our force was trifling in comparison to that of
the enemy, we trusted to our good fortune for falling in with it in
detail, and visions of honour, glory, distinction, promotion, and all
the results of conquest, continually filled our minds. I had
individually an anxious wish for an opportunity of expressing to the
French in the _warmest_ manner how much I was obliged to them for their
former favours. We used to heave-to, or stand close in shore off their
ports, and under easy sail, and sometimes we would detain, board, and
destroy their coasting vessels, and do everything in our power to
exasperate them and induce them to come out.

On 29th September we discovered that the ships at Chiozza, near Venice,
under Commodore Dubourdieu, had sailed; and Captain Hoste, in the
_Amphion_, accompanied by the _Active_, Captain J. A. Gordon,
immediately pushed for Ancona. Here we found the enemy, consisting of
three large frigates, two corvettes, two brigs, one schooner, and a
gunboat. Some of them were under sail outside the port, whilst others
within appeared to be getting under weigh. We concluded they would
immediately give us chase, but in the evening, to our great vexation,
they all returned into port. Our calculation was, that they would push
for Corfu, get reinforced by any ships that might be off or at that
island, and then proceed in all probability for Sicily.

The _Cerberus_ and _Acorn_ joined our little squadron; and on our again
reconnoitring Ancona on 17th October, we found that all our birds had
escaped. Instantly every stitch of canvas that could be of use was
spread, and our course was for Corfu, with the intention of looking into
Lissa, _en passant_. Our hope was, by superior sailing, to arrive first
at Corfu, and prevent their entering without risking a battle.

We fell in with a Sicilian privateer, that informed us she had just been
chased by the enemy, who were steering for Corfu. Our calculations were
thus verified; every sail was crowded, and our hearts rebounded with the
expectation that the dawn would present to us the enemy in the offing.
The morning came, however, and in vain did our eyes traverse in all
directions within the verge of the horizon. Not a foe was to be seen,
and the glowing hopes of a battle vanished. We stood for Brindisi,
across to Cattaro, on the Albanian coast, and ran down the whole
Adriatic; but all was disappointment. Finally we bore up for the island
of Lissa, where, on our arrival, we found, to our infinite
mortification, that the enemy had been before us, and had departed. In
fact, the treacherous Sicilian had deceived us; and on the very day on
which this ally had given us the false information, the French
commodore, having learned from a fisherman that the English squadron was
on a cruise, ran across to Port St. George; landed troops; committed
great havoc and devastation; destroyed our prizes; took away three
neutral ships that we had detained; and hurried back to Ancona. This was
a bitter drug of disappointment; and none felt it more severely than our
gallant captain. I dined with him that day, and saw the big drop trickle
down his manly cheek. Never was there a more gloomy, melancholy
dinner-party, or dinner-table, than this.

All sail was set, and we were following in the direction which the enemy
had taken, or were said to have taken. At midnight of the ensuing day we
had hazy weather with light winds and a heavy swell. In sweeping the
horizon with an excellent night-glass, I imagined that some dark objects
had obstructed my view on its edge. I had repeatedly ascertained this,
and my observation was confirmed by the young gentleman of my watch, ere
I took the resolution of acquainting my most gallant chief with the
fact. I shall never forget the ecstasy with which he sprang from his
cot, exclaiming emphatically, “We have them at last, thank God!--Thank
you, O’Brien,” said this brave enthusiast in his country’s cause--“thank
you for this good look-out; let the officers be called and all get
quietly to their quarters; back your mizen top-sail, that Gordon (of the
_Active_, the next ship in line) may get near enough to communicate
without noise, and I shall be on deck in a moment.”

All these judicious orders were as rapidly executed as they had been
given, and Captain Gordon received our joyful intelligence, and as duly
conveyed it to the next in succession in the line. Every heart was full
of unrestrainable joy at the approaching conflict; and proud was I at
having been the officer who had discovered the enemy. Daylight came, and
what was my mortification, what were the chagrin and disappointment of
us all, when the enemy’s fleet turned out to be not exactly “_des
châteaux d’Espagne_,” but a reality, though nothing more than paltry
fishermen! We reached Ancona and found the fugitives safe in the
harbour. The _Moniteur_, in noticing this wild-goose chase, had the
impudence to state “that the English squadron, though superior to the
French in _force_ and _numbers_, had most sedulously avoided measuring
strength with it.”[38]

The _Cerberus_ left us for Malta to refit, but we were joined by the
_Volage_, of twenty-two guns, and the _Alacrity_ brig, of eighteen.
Daily did we capture coasting vessels and insult the enemy’s coasts. The
_Volage_, on the night of 27th November, in hazy weather, owing to a
sudden shift of wind, ran foul of the _Amphion_; and both ships were
obliged to leave the squadron. In Malta, whilst under repairs, I had the
satisfaction of seeing my brave friends, Lieutenants Jones and
Slaughter, advanced to the rank of commander in reward of their gallant
services. My now becoming first lieutenant of the _Amphion_, my
commander and they were pleased to call my birthright; but Lord
Collingwood was dead, and Sir Charles Cotton the new commander-in-chief,
a stranger to me, without consulting with Captain Hoste, placed my
friend Lieutenant Dunn over my head, who was only eight months my

On 26th February, 1811, both ships being ready for sea, we sailed for
the Adriatic, and on 12th March arrived on our old cruising ground off
the island of Lissa, where we found the _Active_ and _Cerberus_--the
_Acorn_ sloop being on detached service. Our squadron consequently
consisted of four ships, and all were now most anxious to reconnoitre
the Ancona heroes, who had, with such consummate effrontery, stated that
the Adriatic had been by them scoured of British intruders.

Their politeness, it would appear, anticipated our wishes, and surpassed
our expectation, by inducing them to make the _amende honorable_ for
former conduct in paying us a visit before dawn of the next morning,
Wednesday, 13th March, a day for ever memorable, at least with me, and
all who shared its glories, and, I might add, not to be forgotten in
Britain’s naval annals.

The _Active_ being well to windward, on the look-out, Gordon descried a
squadron of ships-of-war lying-to; he instantly made the night-signal
for an enemy, and bore up to join us. At daylight our joy was
indescribable--they were not much more than a mile off Port St. George.
The force of our long-sought enemy, whom we immediately recognised, was
ascertained to be, six ships, a brig, a schooner, xebec, and two
gunboats; certainly a very superior number--the disparity, to all
appearance, overwhelming; but, strange to say, there was not a soul in
the _Amphion_, from the chief down, who did not anticipate a complete
victory; and I have been informed since that the same feeling prevailed
throughout the other ships.

All sail was made close-hauled, tacking occasionally to meet this
Franco-Venetian squadron, under the same chief, Dubourdieu, who, at
about six o’clock, was bearing down in two divisions to attack us. He,
leading the starboard or weather-one, in the _Favorite_, a large
frigate, followed by the _Flore_, _Bellona_, and _Mercurio_ brig; the
lee division was led by the _Danaë_, followed by the _Corona_,
_Carolina_, and small craft.[39]

Our ships were in a very compact line ahead, the _Amphion_, _Active_,
_Cerberus_, and _Volage_, having every sail still set, that we might
close as soon as possible. When nearly within gun-shot, Captain Hoste
telegraphed “Remember Nelson!” which was answered by three loud cheers
from the crews of our squadron, who manned the rigging on the occasion.

At nine, now reduced to top and top-gallant sails, on the starboard
tack, in such close order as to make it impossible for any vessel to
pass between, decorated with union-jacks and ensigns at the different
mast-heads and stays, independent of the regular red ensigns at the
mizen peaks, we hoisted a commodore’s pendant at the _Amphion’s_ main,
at the going up of which our gallant commander cried out most
emphatically, “There goes the pride of my heart!”

Every preparation made, there was a pause or a profound silence
throughout the ship, both squadrons approaching fast, when Captain Hoste
called to me to “try a single shot from one of the main-deck guns at
Dubourdieu’s ship.” This done, it fell immediately under her bows, which
convinced us that we should hit her with guns double-shotted in a very
few minutes.

In that time a most tremendous fire was opened, and became general on
both sides: ours was so well directed, and our ships so close in line,
that the French commodore, who evinced great gallantry, was completely
foiled in the attempt to board us on the starboard quarter. This sealed
his destruction; for at the moment that his jib-boom had nearly plombed
our taffrail, his bowsprit and forecastle being crowded with boarders,
himself in full uniform amongst the foremost, displaying great
intrepidity, and animating his men, a brass five-and-a-half inch
howitzer, which had been previously loaded with between seven and eight
hundred musket-balls, and well pointed, was discharged right at them.
The carnage occasioned by this, together with an incessant fire of small
arms from the marines and seamen, as well as round, grape, and canister,
from every great gun that could be brought to bear, was truly dreadful.
Numbers of the poor wretches were swept away; and amongst the fallen was
distinctly observed their gallant leader.

The _Favorite’s_ fire now became irregular and languid, and she
appeared unmanageable. Our squadron being already too near the shore, it
was deemed indispensable to get their heads off to sea; and therefore
the signal was made to wear together. Our opponent, attempting the same
evolution, failed, and, in great confusion, went plump on Lissa rocks.
We had also, in the _Amphion_, a narrow escape from sharing the same
fate; and for our safety we were, under Providence, mainly indebted to
the extraordinary efforts and presence of mind of William Thomas,
captain of the fore-top, stationed there, who, at the critical moment of
wearing (the rocks not half pistol-shot distant under our lee),
perceiving the jib-stay and halliards shot away, the halliards unrove
from the mast-head block, and consequently the sail rendered useless, on
which the performance of this evolution principally depended, caught the
end of the halliards on its way down, and, with the swiftness of a hind,
and the agility of a monkey, was at the mast-head block, through which
they were instantly rove, and carried down by him with the utmost
rapidity, by the top-mast stay to the bowsprit end, where, in a
twinkling, they were again bent, and the jib set flying, to the
admiration of all who witnessed this intrepid, “indeed, almost
superhuman” exploit, as it was since termed by Captain Sir David Dunn,
who was then first lieutenant, and an eye-witness of the affair.[40] The
ship happily, I might have said miraculously, wore clear of the danger,
and renewed the action on the larboard tack.

The _Volage_, previously the rear-ship, of course now led on the
larboard tack, and gallantly did she perform her part.

The _Flore_ now evinced a determination to execute, by boarding the
_Amphion_, the intention of her fallen chief; and certainly made a most
gallant attempt, but was frustrated.[41] However, she succeeded in
passing under the stern, and poured in a raking fire, which would have
proved most destructive to the men on the main-deck, had I not ordered
them to lie down between the guns, as by standing they were uselessly
exposed, it being impossible to bring a gun to bear on the enemy at the
moment. Many of the _Flore’s_ shot rattled along the decks without doing
injury to the men thus protected by lying close between the guns, one of
which had its pomillion knocked off.

The _Flore_, now to leeward on the same tack, hauled up on our
lee-quarter; the _Bellona_ did the same on the weather-quarter; so that
we were warmly handled between them.

The lee-division of the enemy at this time was also on the larboard
tack, and the captain of the _Danaë_, carefully avoiding the larger
frigates, stuck close to the _Volage_, who plied him so well from her
thirty-two pound carronades, that he was obliged to haul off to a more
respectful distance; this manœuvre compelled the _Volage_ to increase
the quantity of powder, in the hope of reaching her wily antagonist, to
whom, unfortunately, the effort proved favourable.

The breechings having given way in consequence of the increased charges,
the carronades were upset, leaving the gallant Hornby but one
six-pounder to keep up the unequal contest. The _Volage_ was nearly cut
to pieces, when the _Active_ came opportunely to her relief; at sight of
which, the _Danaë_ made all sail to escape to Lessina, as did the
_Carolina_, and the small craft scampered off in various directions.

The _Corona_ having all this time been warmly engaged by the _Cerberus_,
now attempted to follow the _Danaë’s_ example, but was pursued and
brought to close action in a superior style by the _Active_.

In the meantime we suffered much in the _Amphion_ from the well-directed
fire of the two ships, _Flore_ and _Bellona_, so judiciously placed on
our quarters; but the former, being the most formidable, demanded our
chief attention; and being to leeward, we were enabled, by bearing up,
to close and pass ahead so as nearly to touch her, when we poured our
starboard broadside into her larboard bow. In consequence she soon
ceased firing and struck her colours.

The _Bellona_ was now attended to with marked and double diligence, we
at the same time keeping a few main-deck guns pointed at the _Flore_,
fearing she might play us a trick, and take advantage of our disabled
state by slipping away; this was scarcely done, when I received a
message from the captain by his _aide-de-camp_, Mr. Cornwallis Paley, to
the above effect; and I had great pleasure, in reply, to say that I had
anticipated the wishes of my chief, having had some slight knowledge of
the character of those with whom we had now to deal. I confess I had a
presentiment respecting this ship, which proved but too well-founded.

The _Bellona_ soon followed the _Flore’s_ example; at forty-five minutes
past eleven she struck her colours. The _Mercurio_ brig fired
occasionally until the _Favorite_ had gone on the rocks near to which
she had dropt anchor, and was busily employed with her boats in saving a
part of the crew from the wreck. I fancied the _Flore_ was increasing
her distance to leeward, and apprehended she intended to copy the
_Danaë_ and _Carolina_, and try to get into Lessina, a French port on
the Dalmatian coast, when I was delighted by a message that Captain
Hoste wanted me immediately to take possession of the captured frigate;
the first lieutenant, Dunn, having been incapacitated, from being
severely burnt by an explosion on the quarter-deck, which also wounded
our gallant chief, his brother, Thomas Edward Hoste, midshipman, and
many others.

On this occasion, Captain Hoste evinced the greatest possible coolness
and magnanimity. Lieutenant Dunn had been completely blown off his legs,
and not a particle of skin left on his face, and therefore he might have
been considered _hors de combat_ for the present; but this brave officer
still remained at his post, showing with his leader a brilliant example,
as did Lieutenant Thomas Moore of the marines, who had been badly
wounded, and was with difficulty persuaded to go to the surgeon to be
dressed, after which he returned to his quarters.

The question now was, how to proceed on board the prize; for our ship
was in almost a dismantled state, all yards and other tackles being shot
to pieces, and the boats in a most shattered state; one, however,
appearing not quite so bad as the rest, was carried bodily to the
gangway, and tossed into the sea with a rope fast to her, by which,
though half full of water, she was hauled to the ship’s side. I
immediately got into her with Mr. Kempthorn, midshipman, and four
seamen, all of whom commenced baling with their hats, etc., except one
man at each side, who managed to paddle.

The _Flore_ still increasing her distance, I requested that we might be
permitted to try and reach her; but our gallant chief, from the
dangerous state of our boat, and not for a moment imagining the beaten
foe could act so dishonourably, after being under our guns so many
hours, directed me to proceed to the nearest, the _Bellona_, on board of
which with difficulty we got about noon.

Taking two of the boat’s crew, I was received on the gangway by her
first lieutenant and surviving officers--the captain (Duodo) excepted,
who, they informed me, was then in his cabin mortally wounded.
Perceiving them all with side-arms, I requested to know if their ship
had surrendered. They replied in the affirmative; to which I observed,
that on such an occasion, it was usual that swords should be delivered
to the officer taking possession; with which they instantly and
willingly complied. I now added, the form being gone through, that they
were welcome to their arms, and presented his sword to each individual,
all of whom declined the favour. These trophies were, therefore, handed
into the boat, where I wished the late possessors also to place
themselves, that they might pay the British commodore a visit: she
being, from baling and stuffing the leaks, in rather a better state than
when I quitted her. To comply with this proposal they seemed very
reluctant, and expressed astonishment at my having risked the lives of
myself and crew in such a conveyance; but when I assured them that if
the _Bellona_ possessed a better, they were welcome to take it, all
appeared enchanted and most thankful for this act of kindness, and the
first lieutenant directed the stern-boat to be lowered; but, to their
great dismay, she was, if possible, in a worse state than our own.
Having a light favourable breeze, we trimmed the sails as well as we
could, and closed with the _Amphion_, by which our distance was
shortened nearly one-half; and I succeeded in persuading them to depart,
and had the pleasure of seeing all ascend the _Amphion’s_ side.

I had the mortification to discover, at the same time, the _Flore_ out
of gun-shot distance, trimming her sails and making off towards Lessina.
Anxious now to put the _Bellona_ to rights, and ascertain her actual
condition, more especially with regard to the magazine, etc., I
interrogated the gunner, who stated that Captain Duodo had given him
orders to place secretly in the cable tier some barrels of gunpowder, to
which was attached a train, intending, he supposed, in the event of
being compelled to surrender, that the ship, if not altogether
destroyed, should be rendered useless to the captors--his being taken
off the deck wounded prevented this catastrophe. I was forthwith
conducted to the spot, and there placed one of the _Amphion’s_ men as a
sentinel, giving him the necessary instructions, while I left the other
at the helm.

I next proceeded to the cabin of the unfortunate captain, whom I found
stretched on his back, in the most deplorable state: his wound, a most
severe one in the abdomen, having become exceedingly offensive. By my
visit he appeared much affected, and pressed my hand between both of his
and wept, expressing his gratitude in the most impressive manner for the
kindness I had shown to a vanquished enemy. I begged he would command
my services in any way they could be beneficial to him, and bade him

It would be difficult to describe the horrors which now presented
themselves. The carnage was dreadful--the dead and dying lying about in
every direction; the cries of the latter were most lamentable and
piercing. The surgeon, a herculean man, with an apron and his
shirt-sleeves tucked up, attended by his assistant and others, bore a
conspicuous part in the tragedy, being busily employed in examining
wounds, ascertaining the bodies from whom the vital spark had actually
fled, and superintending their interment, or rather launching out of the

Strange to say, every man stationed at one of the guns had been killed,
and as it was supposed by the same shots,[42] which passed through both
sides of the ship into the sea. At another gun the skull of one poor
creature was actually lodged in the beam above where he stood, the shot
having taken an oblique direction: in short, the scene was heart-rending
and sickening.

The prisoners assembled on the quarter-deck, and among them were a
number of soldiers seated on their knapsacks, apparently in expectation
of following their officers on board the British commodore. I addressed
them, and assured them they should be treated with kindness, but that,
in the first instance, each must return immediately to his station and
assist with a good will in putting the ship in an efficient state to
encounter the Borea, or north-east gale, with the approach of which we
were now threatened; and I added that I was aware they must be to a
certain degree in want of food and exhausted, but the work must be
first done, and after that they should have double allowance. To my
proposal they assented; and to work they went most cheerfully, some
shaking and kissing my hands, declaring they would most willingly obey
my orders.

Two seamen now came forward, and in broken English made themselves known
to be Portuguese--one a quarter-master and the other a mizen-top man. I
expressed regret and astonishment at finding the subjects of our friend
and ally, their king, in an enemy’s ship, but that it would now be in
their power to redeem, by good conduct, their character, in which case I
should intercede for them with the commodore, and hoped they would be
permitted to enter his Britannic Majesty’s service, when they would be
considered as Englishmen. They appeared much pleased with this
intelligence, and promised faithfully to do all in their power to merit
approbation, which promise they most scrupulously performed.

The seaman at the helm was now relieved by the Portuguese
quarter-master, and I felt myself strong in having four men upon whom I
could place some dependence.

In a short time we found ourselves in a somewhat better condition: the
dead nearly all thrown overboard, with some who were not quite lifeless,
but of whom not the slightest hope of recovery could be entertained, as
the surgeon and his assistant repeatedly assured me. The sprung and
shattered spars from aloft were sent down; the sails, which stood in
need thereof, unbent and replaced; and the decks shovelled and cleared
from the heaps of gore and _ordure_ with which they had been encumbered.

The _Favorite_ appeared at this time in one perfect blaze on the rocks.
The action was still kept up with great animation between the _Active_
and _Corona_, when, at about half-past two, after a most obstinate
resistance, to the honour of her captain, Paschaligo (who was a
descendant of one of the most celebrated of the Doges), as well as of
her gallant captors, the latter was subdued.

The _Amphion_ and _Volage_ were in a most helpless state; the hull of
the _Cerberus_ was a perfect riddle, though less damaged in masts,
spars, and rigging than her consorts. At about four o’clock the
_Favorite_ blew up; the explosion caused a terrible shock, which was
felt by the whole squadron; and we, on board the _Bellona_, were most
thankful for our having so providentially escaped the same fate, by
Captain Duodo being wounded.

At about nine P.M. the _Corona_ was in imminent danger, having caught
fire in the maintop, when in tow by the _Active_; she was, of course,
instantly cut adrift. At about ten the flames, to us, appeared terrific,
particularly on the main-mast and rigging, being then at point-blank
distance on her lee beam. I used every effort, and succeeded in getting
out of the reach of her heavy metal. At midnight we had the satisfaction
of seeing the fire quite extinguished. This had been effected through
the extraordinary activity and exertions of Lieutenant James Dickenson
of the _Cerberus_, and George Haye of the _Active_, who had led their
men, and, rushing through the devouring element in the most heroic
manner, cut away the loose spars, rigging, etc. So particular a service
could not be performed without detriment to those employed; some lives
were lost, and Lieutenant Haye, whose gallantry had been on various
previous occasions conspicuous, had been, with many other brave fellows,
severely burnt.

Happily, the British squadron, with the _Bellona_ and _Corona_ prizes,
were snugly moored in Port St. George, before the expected north-east
gale, which did not set in until the 15th, and we were all busily
employed plugging shot-holes, and repairing all defects, preparatory to
our proceeding to Malta.

I took the first opportunity of visiting my gallant and worthy chief,
whom, with my friend Dunn and many others, I found in a dismal state
from their wounds, now become painful in the extreme. He expressed great
satisfaction at seeing me, and complimented me on the _Bellona_ being
the first ship in getting into the harbour, and upon my managing the
prisoners so well. He allowed the two Portuguese seamen to enter his
Majesty’s service, and ordered me a few more of the _Amphion’s_ crew,
with two or three marines.

He appeared greatly annoyed by the perfidy of the captured frigate
_Flore_, and was preparing a letter[43] to the senior officer of the
fugitives, demanding her to be given up, according to the laws of war
and honour. We, as soon as possible, carefully got the wounded Captain
Duodo on shore, to the comfortable residence of a dignitary of the
church (a _canonico_), where he shortly expired.

The surgeon of the _Bellona_ being the senior, and considered clever,
Captain Hoste directed all the wounded prisoners to be placed under his
superintendence, amongst whom was a Frenchman of the _Favorite_, whose
right leg was so badly shattered that amputation was instantly
necessary. Anxious to learn this poor fellow’s history, I visited him in
the cockpit, where I found him extended on the platform, the operation
having been performed. His spirits were high.

He assured me he had no recollection of a single circumstance after his
ship had been set fire to; he, with many of his wounded companions, were
then prostrate on the decks; all who were capable of moving had of
course quitted the ship. He must have been blown to the shore when the
ship exploded; and he supposed his unfortunate fellow-sufferers had
fallen into the sea. “Our ship’s fate,” he observed, “was quick and
extraordinary. _La moitié a sauté dans l’air, l’autre a coulé à fond_”;
and, he added, “I am your prisoner, and have lost my leg; but, my good
officer, I have an excellent appetite, and a good meal would make me
quite happy.” I need not say that this brave Frenchman was taken
especial care of, until he was sent on the 20th, with all the wounded,
to Lessina.

Two hundred of the _Favorite’s_ crew, who had escaped on shore, were
compelled to surrender their arms on Sunday, by the enterprising conduct
of Mr. James Lew and Mr. Robert Kingston, midshipmen of the _Active_,
left in charge of prizes at Lissa, who placed themselves at the head of
a few privateer’s men whom they persuaded to volunteer on the occasion.

The squadron and prizes being in a tolerable state for encountering the
perils of the sea, on the 25th we quitted Port St. George to proceed to
Malta; and off the harbour Captain Hoste communicated with the
_Magnificent_ (seventy-four) and _Éclair_ (brig), which were watching
the enemy.

On Thursday, 28th March, when off Cape Colonna, on the Calabrian coast,
a heavy gale of wind came on, which made the _Bellona_ labour
exceedingly, rolling her lower yards nearly in the water, and the whole
squadron strain very much. We found the pumps choked, and the leaks
gaining rapidly; but, however, we cleared all away round the pump-well,
and commenced baling with buckets, at which the prisoners were most
active, and actually volunteered their services to fight the guns, in
the event of falling in with an enemy. This favour, I assured them, I
could not accept, as, should we unfortunately be recaptured, they would
every one be put to death. The fact was, they were triple our number,
and I allowed them to remain in their beds during the night, and had
sentinels placed over the hatchways, without their suspecting it, to
prevent many coming up at a time on any pretence whatever. The pumps at
length were cleared and got to work, the gale abated, and all was once
more in ship-shape order.

On Sunday, the 31st, we arrived in the harbour of Valetta, in Malta. The
joy and enthusiasm with which we were received were most gratifying to
the feelings of the whole squadron. The lines were manned spontaneously
by the entire garrison; nor do I suppose an individual remained in any
of the houses who could by any means move out, or mount to their flat
roofs, which appeared crowded to excess, whilst a continued hurrah and
_vivas_ were kept up from the time we entered the harbour until the
ships were anchored and sails furled.

Fêtes, balls, and every kind of homage and attention were paid by the
different families and individuals, of every class, in the garrison, to
the victors; and the gallant prisoner, Captain Paschaligo, shared in
every honour shown them, for which he appeared truly grateful. The
_Amphion_ and _Volage_ were so much cut up, that to place them in a
state to reach England with the prizes was as much as was possible to be
hoped for or attempted.

On the 26th of April I had much pleasure in reading to our little crew
of the _Bellona_ a complimentary letter, for their gallant conduct on
the 13th ult., from the commander-in-chief, Sir Charles Cotton, which
they received with reiterated cheers.

Lieutenant Dunn, now nearly recovered, was directed to take charge of
the larger prize frigate, the _Corona_, and Lieutenant James Dickenson,
of the _Cerberus_, superseded me in the _Bellona_, when I returned to
the _Amphion_, and became now, _de facto_, what I had some right to
consider myself, _de jure_, first lieutenant, for my friend had had the
situation but a few weeks. However, in that time he was made commander,
and left me in the background.

On the 2nd of June the _Amphion_ sailed from the hospitable Isle of
Malta, the _Volage_ and prizes in company; and, having a propitious
passage, arrived safely in Old England, passing through the Needles.
When off Portsmouth we received instructions to proceed to Deptford with
our prizes, and I had the pleasure of being introduced to the Rev. Dixon
Hoste, the father of my worthy captain. On the 12th of August the
_Amphion_ was put out of commission, and the crew had leave to visit
their friends in different parts of the United Kingdom.

Even now, I could not divest myself of the strong feeling which
predominated in my breast, that, as I had so just a claim to promotion,
it would eventually take place. I took the earliest opportunity of
waiting upon Mr. Charles Yorke, who was then First Lord of the
Admiralty. He received me in that courteous manner, and conversed with
me with that candour, which had justly made him popular in the service.
I fully stated the extreme hardship of my case, in having lost the
absolute certainty of promotion by an officer being put over me who was
only of my standing. Mr. Yorke entered into my views and feelings, and
assured me that I should be appointed the first lieutenant to Captain
Hoste, in his next command. He then gave me leave to visit my friends in
Ireland, whom I had left at an early age, and from whom I had been
separated for sixteen years. To those who have visited their dearest
relations, and the spot of their nativity and boyhood, after a long
separation, and as long a period of affliction, I need not describe the
joys I felt at the prospect of again seeing and embracing all that were
dear to me; but, at the point of departure, I, to my great grief and
dismay, received an appointment to join, as second lieutenant, the
_Volage_, then fitting for the East India station.

I repaired to the Admiralty, and met Mr. Edgecombe, the private
secretary to the first lord, in the hall, just leaving his office. He
expressed astonishment at this occurrence, took my letter, and the next
day it was cancelled, and I obtained official leave to visit my native
country. My companion on this happy journey was my fellow-sufferer in my
escape from Bitche, Barklimore.

Whilst enjoying the full tide of the greatest of all blessings--the
affectionate welcome and caresses of the dearest friends and
relations--I received from Captain Hoste the news that he was to have
the command of the _Bacchante_, then on the stocks at Deptford, and
that I was to be his first lieutenant.

On 16th November 1811, I was on board of the _Bacchante_ when she was
launched; and, amidst a joyous and brilliant assembly, she glided into
the element upon which she was destined to render services to her
country, and achieve glory for all on board.

We were joined by about twenty of the _Amphion’s_ crew, and almost all
our former midshipmen, viz. Messrs. Farewell, Few, Hoste, Langton,
Paley, Rees, and Waldegrave, whose leave of absence had expired. How
beautifully is this fidelity and attachment of seamen to officers and
ship contrasted to impressment and the various annoyances that engender
an inclination in them to desert.

On our way to our station in the Mediterranean we had to take out the
Duke del Infantado, who was then one of the most important political
personages of Spain. We were ordered to land him at Cadiz.

On the morning of 13th March, the old _Amphions_ came to me on the
quarter-deck, and requested twenty-four hours’ leave of absence, that
they might dine on shore at Portsmouth, and celebrate the first
anniversary of our glorious triumph off Lissa. James Bealy,
quarter-master, was spokesman, and presented a code of regulations, and
a bill of fare for dinner, with copies of two songs composed by himself
and a seaman of the _Volage_, to be sung on this joyous occasion.[44]
All returned to their exact time.

It was not till the 3rd of June that we sailed from Spithead, and on the
13th we landed the Duke del Infantado, with his numerous suite, at
Cadiz, whence he sent a present of 300 dollars to our petty officers and
ship’s company. This gift I returned in a courteous manner, expressing
my thanks, but intimating that English ships-of-war never accepted of
such presents. I need not say that my conduct received the approbation
of Captain Hoste.

On our way to Malta, first communicating with the commander-in-chief,
Sir Edward Pellew, off Toulon, we recaptured a Liverpool trader, that
had just been taken by a Franco-Neapolitan privateer, _La Victoire_,
which, after a long chase, we captured also.

On 19th August we appeared off Ancona, and did all in our power to
provoke the _Uranie_, a French frigate of forty-four guns, with fourteen
gunboats, to chase us. Our provocations were retaliated, for the enemy
did not weigh an anchor.

We next proceeded off Trieste, when we discovered the _Danaë_, of
unenviable celebrity (on the 13th of March, off Lissa), lying securely
under the batteries, flanked by a formidable galley mounting several
guns, and full of men; and though we captured and destroyed many small
vessels in their presence, their gallant protectors never moved from
their position.

On the 31st, being off Rovigno, on the Istrian coast, information was
received that several vessels laden with ship timber for the Venetian
Government were lying at the small port of Lema. The boats, five in
number, two of which were small or gigs, had been in readiness early in
the evening, with the command of which I had been honoured by Captain
Hoste, who left me, as he was accustomed, discretionary power to proceed
and cut them out if possible.

The port at which they lay was about eight miles up a river, the
entrance of which was eight or ten miles from Rovigno. When about two
miles up the river, though it was by no means a clear night, we
discovered two merchant-vessels hauled in close under the cliff, which
was chalky and high; on taking possession of them they proved to be
laden with wine: the masters had their wives and families on board; they
informed us that there were several vessels taking in ship timber under
the protection of an armed xebec and two gunboats, about seven miles
higher up.

I anchored the prizes in the centre of the river: in the charge of them
I left Mr. Langton, a steady young man, and a few hands, to be in
readiness to join us on our return, taking with me in my boat the
masters, who were extremely reluctant to become my pilots and
companions, asserting that the force which we possessed was by no means
equal to the attack, and that we would eventually be captured and they
of course shot on the spot.

By a little persuasion, however, and assuring them they were in no
danger, they became more tranquil and reconciled. We now advanced most
cautiously in a line ahead; oars were muffled, and the most profound
silence observed. A gentle fair breeze enabled us to use our sails,
though we could not help reflecting that on coming back it would be
right against us.

When informed that we were within a mile of the enemy, we lowered our
sails and made all snug for boarding, having reduced our propelling
force to two oars of a side, but all the rest were out and ready in the
rullocks. When we were within two or three cables’ length, only

[Illustration: _Cutting out the Enemy’s Vessels of War in the Port of
Lema in Dalmatia._

London. Edward Arnold. 1902.]

one oar of a side was used, and each dropped softly into the water,
whilst I assigned to every boat her opponent, agreeably to the manner in
which the pilots had described the enemy’s positions, reserving to
myself the largest, the xebec, which lay farthest up, and the attack of
which was to be the general signal for boarding, although no enemy was
as yet perceptible.

Continuing thus slowly and cautiously, yet no enemy appearing, I almost
apprehended that a hoax had been played off by these men, but they
declared that they would willingly forfeit their existence if the
information they had given was not correct, and at that instant laid
themselves flat in the bottom of the boat, when by a stentorian voice, I
was hailed in English, in the most insulting language, “Come alongside,
you English b----s.” I thanked them for the invitation, and, giving way
with all our might, assured them we should be instantly with them. We
were, under a discharge of grape from our twelve-pound carronade and a
volley of musketry, on the decks of the xebec in a twinkling!

Her guns were primed and matches in hand, some of which were picked up
in a lighted state; but the crew, from the rapidity of our movements,
appeared paralysed, and the _maître d’équipage_, who had been, we were
told, in the English service, and by whom we were defied, with many
others, jumped overboard.

In the conflict the captain had been wounded in his cabin and made his
escape by the rudder-chains. Report said that this unfortunate man,
though very near the shore, never reached it.

The general attack was simultaneous, as previously concerted, and it
proved successful; but from the smart fire which was kept up on both
sides by the other parties, I dreaded serious consequences.

Lieutenant Gostling, with Mr. Hoste, had most gallantly boarded and
carried one gunboat; while Mr. Few, midshipman, in the most intrepid and
determined style, in his gig, sword in hand, carried the other.

The merchant vessels were found by Mr. Powell, with sails unbent and
fast to the shore by their sterns. On receiving this intelligence, I
left Mr. Haig in command of the xebec, who conducted her down the river
in a superior manner, and proceeded to Mr. Powell’s assistance. In a
short time we succeeded in getting the merchant vessels cut adrift, and
in tow of our boats, obliging their own crews (whom we found concealed
below) to get their sails up and bend them; during which time the
vessels were drifting down the river, and the breeze was most
providentially veering round fair.

It was past midnight, and by the light of the moon just appearing above
the horizon, we could discern that not a vessel was left in the port;
and, to complete our joy, upon inquiry, not a man was even wounded.

Notwithstanding that there were bodies of troops in the neighbourhood
who, as the beating of their drums convinced us, were hastening to
intercept our getting down the river, which was not more than
musket-shot distance across, we escaped with all our prizes, and were
joined by one more, a wine vessel, which came out of a little creek at
the entrance of the river, mistaking us for friends on seeing the French
colours, but not perceiving the union-jack over them. Captain Hoste was
overjoyed at our success, and at seeing his gallant young brother in
command of one of the gunboats.

I represented to him the services that had been rendered to us by the
masters of the wine vessels, as well as the mistake made by the last
poor fellow, whose whole property consisted of the little vessel and
cargo, which he had laboured so hard in the morning to place under my
protection. Captain Hoste, with his usual kindness of heart, readily
assented to my wishes, and the three vessels with their crews were

The xebec was equipped immediately, and placed under the command of Mr.
Powell, who greatly distinguished himself in her against the enemy. We
took our prizes to Lissa, and on 16th September sailed to join the
blockading squadron off Venice.

The wind being foul, we stretched over to the coast of Apulia, and at
daybreak on the 18th we discovered an enemy’s convoy of twenty-six
vessels standing along shore, between the islands of Tremite and Vasto.
The wind was too light and baffling for the frigate to get near them,
and the barge, launch, two yawls, and a gig were immediately manned, and
placed under my discretionary orders. A general chase now commenced.

Our boats had been formed into three divisions, viz. the launch and
second yawl in shore, to the right; the barge and first yawl in the
centre; and the gigs to the left in the offing, at such a distance that
their force, which was inconsiderable, should not be recognised. The
enemy hauled into a snug semicircular bay, forming themselves to its
shape the moment they discovered us. In this strong position, with their
heads towards us, rudders unshipped, and tackles from their mast-heads
to the shore, and strong stern-fasts, they hauled their sterns close on
the beach; eight of the number, being armed vessels, were judiciously
placed, three on each horn or wing, and two in the centre.

Our mode of attack was arranged accordingly. I pushed in for the centre;
Messrs. Haig and Powell with the launch and second yawl swept the shore
on the right, and the gigs had orders to advance slowly on the left. We
approached in good order and quickly. When we came within musket-shot,
the armed vessels commenced a heavy cannonade, to which compliment we
replied with cheers only, until within half pistol-shot, when we
returned the fire with grape and canister from our twelve-pound
carronade. At the second discharge we were alongside, and the crews fled
precipitately over the sterns, wading through the water to the shore,
where they afterwards formed to gall us with their musketry, but were
soon routed by our marines, and a party under Messrs. Webb and Farewell,
reserved for that purpose, and driven to a respectable distance, at
which they were kept, while the remainder of our gallant fellows were
actively employed in getting the tackling off the shore, shipping the
rudders, hauling the vessels off the ground and out of the bay, some of
which, in two hours, were actually under weigh for the frigate. With the
exception of six salt vessels, the cargoes consisted of almonds and oil,
and by four o’clock all were conducted to the ship, two only excepted,
which were by our shot sunk and could not be moved; the part above water
of these were destroyed by fire, and effectually demolished before we

The breeze now began to freshen, and the atmosphere had all the
appearance of the commencement of a Borea, or N.E. gale; consequently no
time was lost in despatching as many of the prizes as we could to Lissa.
The salt craft were scuttled and sunk; the remaining vessels we took in

The gale increased during the night, and caused us great uneasiness for
the safety of the eleven prizes sent away, two of which we fell in with
the next morning; one being dismasted, the crew had quitted her, and we
took her in tow. We were by them informed that one under the command of
the Honourable H. J. Rous, midshipman, had upset; but the cargo (oil)
being of a buoyant nature, the vessel floated on her broadside, which
enabled another, her consort, under the Honourable William Waldegrave, a
promising young officer, to pick him and her crew up, with the exception
of one man (I think Oliver Cooke), whom they could not by any means get
hold of at the moment.

Soon after we fell in with Mr. Rous, who gave us the bearing of the
wreck, and the apparent distance. We, of course, immediately cast adrift
our tow, and after many hours of tacking, wearing, and diligent search,
in various directions, with every telescope in the ship in requisition,
in the earnest and anxious expectation of discovering the unfortunate
poor fellow, were, at noon, about to relinquish all hope, when our
second lieutenant (Hood) imagined he had discovered a something astern
of us, which proved to be the wreck, and very soon we perceived the
object of our anxiety on it.

We instantly wore round, and in a moment, although the sea was running
very high, and it was a dangerous service, I had a boat’s crew of
volunteers, and picked him up.

He had managed to secure himself with a piece of rope to one of the
timber heads on the upper gunwale, from which, owing to extreme
weakness and languor, he had great difficulty to extricate himself. The
judicious means resorted to by our skilful surgeon (William Lodge Kidd),
together with the attention bestowed on him by all on board, restored
the patient in a short time to, at least, a sense of his ameliorated

He informed us that, at daylight, he had perceived the ship advancing
towards the wreck, and was overjoyed, being confident that we must have
observed him; but, when he saw us about to depart, he thought his heart
would instantly break. Considering the size of a large frigate, and the
wreck of a comparatively small vessel, occasionally covered with the
sea, it is easy to account for the difference in our optics.

All of our prizes arrived in safety except two, which I grieve to say
were never heard of. They were commanded by very promising young men,
Dobson and Mason. Mr. Few, of whom I have had occasion already to make
honourable mention, commanded one of the captured vessels, which was
without any ground tackling, and finding that she was drifting rapidly
before the gale on the enemy’s coast, he adopted the ingenious
contrivance of slinging a twelve-pound gun and letting it go as an
anchor, and by this means the vessel rode out the gale and was saved
from destruction. Another midshipman, Mr. Richardson, by getting his
cables out abaft, and letting go his anchors from the stern, though in
very deep water, contrived to retard the drifting of his vessel until
the gale abated, and thus did he save his prize. This youth had but just
commenced his naval career.

It was at this period that a truly dreadful accident occurred on board
of the _Bacchante_, and which plunged all our officers and crew into
the profoundest melancholy. On anchoring, a light vessel was brought
alongside of us, in order that we might load her with some of the
oil-casks that we had saved out of the sinking prizes. A remarkably fine
youth, the son of Viscount Anson, had just quitted my side, and had
descended into the vessel, to see the process employed in loading her.
He had not been two minutes on board, and was apparently at play with
another youth about his own age, a Mr. William Barnard, when one of our
main-deck guns, by some inexplicable cause, went off, and killed him on
the spot, without hurting his companion or any other person whatever.
The ball, however, was very nearly killing Captain Duff Markland, of the
admiral’s ship, the _Milford_, for it whizzed close by his head as he
was looking out of the quarter-gallery window.

How this fatal gun had so unhappily gone off was inscrutable. The
lanyards and leaden apron over the lock and touch-hole were secured in
the best and usual manner. No fire or means of ignition were near it;
and as to any vibration or concussion of the decks, caused by our
removing the casks, if such existed, it must have been very slight, and
equally effective in the adjacent guns. Be the cause what it may, we had
to consign to its last long resting-place the mutilated body of a young
officer, suddenly cut off in all the promise of youth, at a moment of
sportive innocence, and amidst the affections of all around him. Our
brave captain was deeply affected, for poor young Anson had been
entrusted by his parents to his special care and superintendence.

On the 25th we again stood over to the Apulian coast, and vainly
endeavoured to gain some intelligence of our lost shipmates and prizes.
Our ultimate object was the blockade of Venice. We had heard, however,
of the most tragical fate of the _Danaë_, French frigate, lying off

A seaman who had been punished (and his miscreant nature affords a
presumption that his punishment had been merited), had by some
contrivance or other procured access to the magazine. Having everything
in readiness, he waited only for the captain’s returning on board. This
officer had been at the opera--from the refined and luxurious enjoyment
and splendour of which he had returned to his rougher quarters, and
could scarcely have got into his cot, when the diabolical assassin
applied his match to the powder, and the noble vessel, with her full
complement of (I doubt not) brave men, was in an instant blown to atoms;
for only four of them were left to tell this wretched tale.

The _Flore_ frigate, that had so shamefully made her escape after she
had struck to us, had been wrecked some time back off the coast of
Venice; and all that remained of the fine squadron, of which Napoleon
had formed such high expectations, was the _Carolina_. What could be a
better compliment to our noble captain?

I was engaged to dine with him on the 29th of September, or Michaelmas
Day, and off goose--an odd English dinner in such a part of the world.
In the morning, it falling a dead calm, and our frigate being only
twelve or fourteen miles off the fortified town of Viesta, it struck
Captain Hoste that by a flag of truce I might learn whether our poor
fellows in the two prizes had perished at sea or whether they had been
driven on the enemy’s coast and made prisoners of war.

As it was not unusual for Napoleon’s officers to disrespect flags of
truce, and to violate the security paid to them by civilised nations, I
took the worst boat (an old gig), with four volunteers, and I supplied
myself with a knapsack, and all other things that might enable me, were
I captured, to indulge in my old habits of escaping from French clutches
rather than be again taken to Bitche; where a recollection might be had
of me that would be by no means consonant to my wishes.

After a long and tedious row we got near to the batteries, which were
manned, and exhibited all the bustle of drums and bugles, and all other
symptoms of excitement and of brave and noble daring, as if they had
been approached by a first-rate ship-of-war, instead of by a small boat
containing only four men under a flag of truce, which showed that they
were unarmed.

As we approached the centre of the fort the soldiers crowded the
ramparts, making the most violent demonstrations with their side-arms,
brandishing their swords, and using the most abusive language towards

I pursued my object, pointing to my flag of truce, and to a packet of
papers which I held in my hands; but a number of officers and soldiers
rushed from the sally-port to the water’s edge, using the most
disgusting language, swearing that they would cut us to pieces if we
attempted to land.

I appealed to the officer upon the respect due to a flag of truce: and I
anxiously inquired after the fate of my companions, but I was unhappily
convinced that he knew nothing of them, for all the reply I got was a
charge that, under the pretext of a flag of truce, I had approached
solely with a view to discover the state of the garrison, and we
deserved to be shot as spies. I had therefore only to rejoin my ship,
where an ample portion of goose was reserved for me by my good chief.

We repaired off Venice, where, on the 14th of October, we discovered, in
company with the _Achille_, that the enemy had three sail of the line
more ready than willing, we imagined, to put to sea. With this
intelligence we were despatched to our Admiral Freemantle, at Lissa, and
again returned, after capturing two _trabaccolos_, laden with firewood,
close in on the Istrian coast. There was a good deal of boat-fighting on
this occasion, as they were covered by musketry from the shore; however,
we had not sustained any loss; and we soon had a much better exploit.

As there could not have been for the Adriatic and its coasts a better
pilot than Captain Hoste, in passing between the Brioni Islands and the
main, a large quantity of ship timber was discovered by us lying on the
beach, near the town of Fazano, on the Istrian shore, which he
determined to seize and embark the first convenient opportunity, which
soon presented itself.

On the 13th of November, after having been opposed by adverse winds and
drifted by currents, we found the commodore, Captain Rowley, in the
_Eagle_, with the _Achille_, Captain Hollis, in company. Captain Hoste
gave the former the information, who immediately acquiesced in a
proposal made by our gallant chief to bring the timber off. The
commodore kindly declared, that as it had been discovered by him, the
command of the forces necessary for the execution of that service should
be given to his first-lieutenant (myself), and that he, the commodore,
with the other line-of-battle ship, would be most happy to supply as
many officers and men as might be deemed expedient for the purpose.

Arrangements were accordingly made: light winds, together with the draft
of water they required, prevented the line-of-battle ships getting near
enough to the shore to cover the debarcation, but the _Bacchante_ was
enabled to take her position sufficiently close to the town, with
springs on her cables, and all boats were out and in readiness at an
hour before daylight on the 14th.

The marines, with the seamen of the _Eagle_ and _Bacchante_ intended for
the service, pulled off from the frigate for the shore at daybreak
(those of the _Achille_, being at a great distance in the offing, not
having arrived), with three hearty cheers, which were returned with
great animation by our good captain and shipmates. My orders, as on
former occasions, were discretionary, with a proviso that, in the first
instance, it was indispensably necessary to take the town of Fazano.

In about twenty minutes we were all landed, and in a very few minutes
more had possession of the town, and had the pleasure of seeing the
British colours flying from the top of the church steeple without
opposition, for the troops and militia had abandoned the place on our
approach. All the advantageous positions were instantly occupied by our
marines, under the command of Lieutenants Holmes and Haig; the enemy we
observed on the adjacent heights, waiting, we supposed, for a
reinforcement from the garrison of Pola, only eight miles distant, and
where they had a formidable force, having in that place regular

Immediately on our colours being displayed I searched out and found the
_padré_, or chief clergyman, to whom I communicated our intention of
taking off all the ship timber, as it was a Napoleon or government
concern, adding, that we waged no war against the inhabitants, nor
should they be in the slightest way molested; whatever provision or
merchandise they had to dispose of, we should purchase at their own
prices; the fishermen and boats I should put in requisition, to aid in
the embarcation of the timber, after which they would be allowed to
depart freely. All these particulars I requested the good _padré_ would
have the kindness to communicate to his flock, who received joyfully the
intelligence, and to work we went most willingly--none more so than the
natives, who I believe, if they durst declare it, were more attached to
us than to the usurper and his myrmidons.

The timber proved to be solid oak, and so ponderous that on launching it
sunk like lead; therefore we were under the necessity of slinging or
hanging every beam and piece of it to the boats’ sides, as rafting it
off was out of the question.

By sunset the frigate was nearly full; the lower decks and booms were
the only places where it could be conveniently placed, so as not to
interrupt the working of the guns, and our signal was made for
re-embarcing, which was complied with, with the most exact precision and
in perfect order, without a casualty with the exception that one of our
carpenter’s crew, named Remmings, was missing, whom we strongly
suspected of having an intention to desert. The troops and militia
entered the town at the moment of our embarcation. Early on the next
morning, the 15th, we again landed and resumed our duties with the same
facility, the enemy having retired from the town to the heights as on
the preceding day; and by ten o’clock we had sent off all that the ship
could possibly contain. Having destroyed the remainder, we returned to
the frigate; just as I was informed that the enemy was advancing in
great force, with a determination to drive us into the sea.

We were next despatched to Corfu, off which island Captain Hoste
appeared on the 24th December, it blowing a hurricane at the time.

On 5th January 1813, when passing the Island of Fano, early in the
afternoon, we discovered a flotilla of gun-vessels standing out to sea,
evidently bound across to Otranto. The wind being fair for the Adriatic,
we crowded all possible sail, as if making a passage up the Gulf without
perceiving the enemy’s flotilla, which lowered their sails and hauled in
under the high cliffs of the island. The moment we lost sight of them,
we shortened sail, and stood over close-hauled on a wind, for Otranto,
in the hope of cutting them off on the morning following. At midnight we
were made happy by a number of letters from England, which the _Weazle_
had recently received.

On the 6th, at about half-past five, the officer of the watch sent a
midshipman to inform me that it was a perfect calm, with light only
sufficient to distinguish that we were at a short distance from five
gunboats of the enemy, then exactly midway between Corfu and Otranto.
Our _ruse de guerre_ had evidently so far proved successful. The
_Weazle_ was not more than four miles from us, but in an opposite
direction to the flotilla, now about six or seven miles distant. This
service, as there was no wind, was necessarily to be executed by our
boats, which were in readiness by six o’clock, and which I had the
honour of commanding.

As on former occasions, my gallant friend, Lieutenant Haig of the
marines, always active and zealous in the service of his king and his
country, accompanied me in the barge. Lieutenant Hood commanded the
launch; Lieutenant Gosling, the second yawl; Mr. Edward Webb, master’s
mate, the first yawl and two gigs, one of which was commanded by Mr.
Hoste, midshipman.

The enemy, perceiving the preparations, separated, two of them taking
the direction back towards Corfu; the remaining three, with sails
furled, kept their course towards Otranto, sweeping with all their
might, which division we pursued, Mr. Webb, with whom the _Weazle’s_
boats were directed to co-operate, chasing the former division.

After two good hours’ chase, we in the barge closed with the sternmost
gunboat, the officer of which kept up an incessant and well-directed
fire of round and grape, that splintered several of the oars; but not a
man was wounded, and to this fire we could reply by cheers only, as
otherwise we should have been obliged to lay in our oars, which, of
course, would retard our progress in closing. Now nearly alongside, and
about to cease rowing, we discharged our twelve-pound carronade with
grape, which wounded two of his men; and, seeing that we were ready to
lay him on board, he thought proper to haul down his colours.

The other boats coming up, I pushed on for the next ahead. To Mr. Hoste,
whose gig kept the whole time close to the barge, I left charge of the
prize. I perceived him take possession in good style with his little
crew, send the prisoners below off the deck, and, with amazing celerity,
he had her bow-gun, which traversed upon a pivot, to bear upon the
chase, contributing greatly to her

[Illustration: _Capture of a French Flotilla off Otranto._

London. Edward Arnold. 1902.]

surrender, though a fine breeze now sprang up, which enabled them to
make sail--which, of course, we did also; as did the frigate when it
reached her, though at a great distance to leeward.

The third gunboat was closing fast with the Neapolitan coast, but we
gained upon her, and in little more than an hour we had the satisfaction
of having captured the whole, without any loss whatever on our side.

Mr. Webb, in the first yawl, captured the sternmost of the two which he
had been in chase of, before the _Weazle_ or her boats (notwithstanding
they used every exertion) could co-operate. However, as they were
rapidly advancing, he left his prize to be taken possession of by them,
and, pushing forward, boarded and carried, in the most gallant manner,
the other, ably supported by the Hon. H. J. Rous. All proved to be
vessels of a superior description and very fast craft: their officers
stated that they were bound to Otranto, for the purpose of picking up
and fetching back to Corfu specie for the payment of the troops in that

Their guns were fitted on a pivot, which enabled them to traverse and
fire in any direction, without altering the course; it was by this means
that they were enabled to annoy our boats so much in approaching, as I
have already stated. We found it necessary to bear up for Valona Bay, in
order to put our prizes in a state to encounter bad weather, which, from
all appearances, was then to be expected.

On the 8th we sailed with them for the Island of Zante; and the next
day, when off Fano, we captured a convoy consisting of five vessels,
laden with provisions, for Corfu. The weather again becoming boisterous,
compelled us to return to our anchorage, and to destroy two of the
gunboats; a third was missing, which we feared must have gone down. If I
am not mistaken, it was the _Calypso_, under the command of Mr. Edward
O. Pocock.

_13th January._--We were now again on our passage to Zante with the
prizes captured on the 9th inst.: the weather becoming boisterous,
buffeted them about very much, and on the 23rd it became still more
inclement, which obliged us to take young Mr. Hoste and the crew out of
one until the weather abated. Another, commanded by Mr. Few, which we
had left perfectly secure and well in under the Island of Zante, we
perceived early the next morning (24th), bearing down to us with the
signal of distress at the mast-head. I obtained permission from Captain
Hoste to proceed with a volunteer crew (as was usual on dangerous
occasions) to her assistance. On coming within hail, I received the
melancholy intelligence of the loss of this very promising young man,
Mr. Few,[45] in the night. It happened that, in the act of wearing, the
vessel’s fore-yard struck him, and tossed him completely overboard: the
night was excessively dark, and a mountainous sea running; the crew had
heard him call out, but could not see him or render any assistance. This
severe loss cast a gloom over all hands. Another young gentleman was
placed in command; and, having seen all our prizes safe into Zante (with
the exception of the three which were missing), we resumed our station
off Corfu.


     Capture of General Bordé and his staff--A gallant boarding
     exploit--A horrible murder by Italian prisoners of war--Success of
     our navy--A balance of accounts--My promotion--Quitting the
     _Bacchante_--Pain of leaving old friends and brave shipmates--The
     plague at Malta--Captain Pell gives me a passage home--An
     ineffectual chase and a narrow escape--Stratagems of the
     enemy--Toulon--Gibraltar--The English Channel--Ingenious device of
     Captain Pell resulting in the curious capture of a French
     privateer--Arrival in England--A kind reception by the First Lord
     of the Admiralty--An official promise--“Hope deferred maketh the
     heart sick”--A return to London--The peace of 1814--Its
     consequences--Half-pay and an end to all adventures.

On 13th February, at about 10 o’clock P.M., after a long chase we
captured the _Vigilante_, a French courier gunboat bound for Otranto
with despatches, which, of course, were thrown overboard before we took
possession of her. She had on board of her General Bordé with his staff,
who, we had discovered by intercepted letters, was then on his passage
to take the command of the French forces at Verona.

At 2 A.M., being about ten or twelve miles from Otranto, a sail was
perceived steering for that port. The wind being very light, our boats
were despatched under Lieutenant Hood, who captured the enemy by
boarding, in a gallant style, after a warm salute of grape and musketry,
and before the rest of our boats could join him. This brave exploit
reflected the greatest honour on this officer and his boat’s crew.

The prize proved to be the _Alcinous_, carrying a twenty-four-pounder
carronade forward and an eighteen-pounder abaft. She had left Corfu with
eight merchant-vessels, the whole of which we captured. The only person
wounded on this occasion was the gallant commander, Lieutenant Hood, who
received an injury in the vertebræ, which eventually deprived him of the
use of the lower extremities by paralysis.

Of our three recent prizes, which were missing when we left Zante, we
now found that one had arrived at her place of destination, but the
third was still unheard of, and a most melancholy account was given of
the second, under the command of Mr. Cornwallis Paley, a fine, promising
young gentleman, who was beloved and esteemed by our captain and by
everybody on board, and who had distinguished himself in the action off

Mr. Paley’s crew, on taking charge of the prize, consisted of three
excellent seamen and a young lad, a mizzen-top man. Three of the Italian
prisoners were left on board, to assist in navigating the vessel. After
parting company, a fourth Italian, who had been concealed in the hold,
made his appearance on deck. It turned out that he had been the
principal person who was interested in the vessel and cargo. The brave
and honourable Englishman, influenced by his humanity, allowed the
supplicating creature to join his countrymen. He was plausible and
obsequious, and poor Paley, it appears, had rather liked his society as
a relief to the dulness and monotony of his passage. Becalmed off Corfu,
this miscreant proposed to Mr. Paley to anchor, which he did, and went
below to dinner with his three seamen, leaving the four Italians and
the English lad on deck. The Italians watched their opportunity, and
seizing the young man murdered him, and then laid on the hatches to keep
the English below. Poor Paley, hearing a noise on deck, suspected that
all was not right, and starting from the table he forced one of the
hatches up sufficiently to thrust his head on deck, when the inhuman
wretches seized him by the hair, pulled his head back on the combings,
and instantly cut his throat. The other three Englishmen were attacked
in succession, and hewed down with an axe: the murderers eventually took
the vessel into Corfu, where poor Paley and two of our seamen were
interred; the other two, after they had recovered from their wounds,
were exchanged and sent on board of us; and from them we learnt the
appalling information. Was it not disgraceful that the public
authorities did not bring these criminals to justice? Allowing prisoners
to rise upon their captors can only have the effect of obliging
conquerors to increase the severity inseparable from captivity, even in
its mildest form; but when prisoners resort to butchery and murder, it
behoves all civilised governments to bring them to justice.

For want of bread and provisions we were now obliged to repair to Malta;
and from thence we returned to Zante and the Adriatic, to bid adieu to
Admiral Freemantle--Captain Hoste having, in the interim, received
orders from the commander-in-chief (Sir Edward Pellew) to join him off

But, having again arrived at Malta on 19th April, I almost immediately
received from Captain Hoste the joyful news that the Admiralty, in
reward of my services up to 18th September 1812, had promoted me to the
rank of commander. It would be injustice to my kind friends, were any
fears of being accused of vanity to make me hesitate in saying that my
promotion was hailed by my brave captain, and all my brother officers
and the ship’s company, with a cordiality most grateful to my feelings.
On the 22nd I quitted my companions in arms and my social friends, and
bade adieu to the glorious frigate _Bacchante_, which received counter
orders from Sir Edward Pellew to return to the Adriatic station.

My commission was dated 22nd January, sixteen days after I had been
engaged in capturing the Corfu flotilla; and, in the hope that the
arrival of the news of this victory would induce their lordships of the
Admiralty to give me the command of a sloop-of-war in the Mediterranean,
I remained at Malta, though the plague was raging most violently. It was
the doctrine of the medical profession that the disease could be taken,
not by infection, but only by contact, and therefore, mounted on a
spirited charger, I daily rode through all parts of the city.

Captain Hollis of the _Achille_ found difficulty in taking me as a
passenger to England, from an apprehension that I might communicate the
plague; and at last I sailed in H.M. bomb-ship _Thunder_, commanded by
Watkin O. Pell.

In passing through the Straits of Bonifacio we ineffectually chased
several of the Corsican coral-boats. Some of our cruisers were more
fortunate. The _Rainbow_, Captain William Gawen Hamilton, caught two of

We made the land off Toulon early in the morning, and narrowly did we
escape capture. We were delighted at discovering what we supposed to be
our own Mediterranean fleet, consisting of sixteen sail of the line,
about ten miles from Cape Sicie. We should have rushed into the arms of
supposed friends, had we not found, on coming within signal distance,
that our private signal was not answered. The enemy, the better to
deceive us, kept four sail of the line in advance (for which we
steered, and made our signal to them), so that the remaining twelve
might appear as a French fleet in chase of an English squadron.
Discovering our error, we crowded all sail, and the caution of the enemy
was evinced; for we sailed heavily, yet they dared not follow us
(although they had a leading wind), lest they should lose the
opportunity of regaining their port.

At Gibraltar, I had the satisfaction of receiving numerous letters from
friends at home, some of them of very old dates, that had been in
pursuit of me all over the Mediterranean and Levant.

At length we arrived at Portsmouth, and had to remain for six weeks in
quarantine at the Mother-Bank. The joys of revisiting our own country
were thus most cruelly damped. Never did men suffer more of
tantalization. However, on the 4th of October, I had the happiness of
putting my foot on England’s soil. I landed at Portsmouth, bade adieu to
my hospitable host of the _Thunder_, and his kind and excellent
officers, and made arrangements to proceed to London.

I had to regret that I had not gone up the Channel with my friend
Captain Pell, who was ordered to take the _Thunder_ to Woolwich. Off the
Oars’ light, he discovered a lugger to windward, under easy sail, which
he suspected to be an enemy. Captain Pell directly altered his course,
and bore up for the land, as if, to avoid capture, he intended to run
his ship on shore. He yawed and steered wildly, and by these, and other
symptoms of fear and confusion, the enemy was completely deceived. The
lugger soon came up with the chase, and made an awful display of
boarders; her decks being crowded with armed men. She at last hailed
Captain Pell to strike his colours, or she would sink him. The order, of
course, was not obeyed, and the lugger put her helm up to board. Pell
immediately put his helm the contrary way, which instantly brought the
boasting and confident enemy across the hawse of H.M. ship _Thunder_,
and not of the harmless merchantman they had supposed. The brave and
ingenious Pell had now succeeded both in his stratagem and manœuvre;
and, seizing on the critical moment, he poured into the astonished
Frenchmen the full contents of grape and canister of four guns; and,
following this up by a volley of musketry, he rushed with his men (whom
he had hitherto kept concealed) upon the enemy’s deck, and soon was the
English flag floating over the tricolour. The enemy had four men killed
and ten wounded; the _Thunder_ had only two wounded. This was a
fortunate finale to our gallant officer’s cruise. The prize proved to be
the _Neptune_, of sixteen guns, with a complement of sixty-five men
actually on board; and the capture was important, as this fast-sailing,
well-equipped vessel had been a great annoyance to our trade in the
Channel. She was taken into Ramsgate. My friend, Captain Pell, was most
deservedly advanced, for his numerous services, to the rank of
post-captain, on the first of the ensuing month of November.

Arrived in London, the first Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Melville,
received me courteously, and complimented me on my promotion, which he
was pleased to say I had won by my services and merit. I pointed out to
his lordship that the important capture of the Corfu flotilla, which had
been achieved by me, was unknown in England when my promotion had been
given to me, and I urged that I hoped this last service might procure me
a ship. Lord Melville’s reply was, on my taking leave of his lordship,
“You shall go afloat, Captain O’Brien; we will not keep you on shore.”

Most joyfully was I received by all my friends; whilst my naval
companions congratulated me on the certainty of my soon receiving an
eligible command. Week after week did I remain in the expensive
metropolis, in the hope of getting a ship.

The success of the Americans at sea, and the capture of the gallant
_Guerrière_,[46] by her leviathan opponent, now formed the subject of
public and private conversation. I felt most anxious to be on the shores
of the New World; but after writing to Lord Melville, and reminding him
of his promise, I received an official reply, “That I was noted for
consideration _at a convenient opportunity_.”

It was clear that a long holiday was before me, so passing over to
Ireland I had the heavenly happiness of embracing my honoured and
beloved parents, who had come to the Irish metropolis to receive me. Let
no man undervalue the happiness of life who has felt the joy of
embracing parents, after a long and painful absence, in which he has
suffered much, and has been also fortunate in bearing a distinguished
part in participating in honourable public services.

During the autumn of 1814 I was attacked with ague, a disease common to
the bay of Dublin, and was in a state of convalescence when I received a
welcome and unexpected official letter from the Admiralty, desiring me
to repair immediately to London.

I proceeded to London forthwith, but, from a boisterous and unpleasant
passage, had a relapse of the disease. However, as soon as I was equal
to it, I saw Mr. Hay, the private secretary of the First Lord of the
Admiralty, who received me very kindly; and the interview ended in his
requesting me to leave my London address, as it was the intention of the
First Lord to give me a ship.

I thanked Mr. Hay very much for the information, and took my leave by
stating to him that I had been confined to my bed a fortnight, and that
this was my first attempt at moving out.

Day after day I passed in feverish anxieties for the arrival of the
letter appointing me to a command. Days, weeks, months, and, I may say,
years passed, and no such letter was received.

Unfortunately for me, Napoleon had fallen six months before, and peace
with America was now talked of; to this I attribute mainly the neglect
of my incessant and anxious applications to be employed. The reply
always was, that “I was noted for consideration at a convenient
opportunity”; but there was added after a time the unhappy news, “that
it was not intended at present to place any more ships in commission.”

I had seen my last war service, and may now bring my narrative to a

Whatever may have been the circumstances of my captivity, the painful
adventures that I was destined to endure, and the innumerable varieties
of incidents that were crowded into my chequered fate, I trust that one
thing is evident to the reader--that the honour of the British empire,
with the character of the naval service, has always been uppermost in my
mind: that I have ever loyally served--

    The flag that braved a thousand years
    The battle and the breeze.



_A Copy of_ MR. ARCHIBALD BARKLIMORE’S _Letter to_ Capt. D. H. O’BRIEN,
_on his arriving in England_.

_14 Dean Street, Soho_,

MY DEAR O’BRIEN--I hasten, knowing how anxious you will be to hear from
your old fellow-traveller and fellow-prisoner, to inform you of my safe
arrival in London, where I have been received and welcomed by numerous
friends, as if I had actually been a resuscitated creature from the
other world.

When I now look around me and see the cheerful countenances of the
people of Old England, blessed in security under a paternal and just
Government, I cannot help contrasting them with the meagre, squalid
faces of those we have left behind, groaning under the tyranny of an
usurper. Nor can I, my dear friend, conceal from you that I feel a
something within me which proclaims aloud the great superiority of the
British nation, and makes me no longer wonder that her sons, with their
daring spirit, should break through prisons, bolts, and bars, and fly to
protect so sacred a home! Shall I ever forget our exploits in scaling
ramparts, eluding the vigilance of sentinels and guards, and all the
hairbreadth ’scapes we had to encounter, from the time we got clear of
the fortress of Bitche, until you had been hoisted up in a chair, with
your disabled arm (which I fear you will lose), on board the _Amphion_?
That, my good friend, was a severe conflict, and one which I shall never
forget. It was the first time I had ever set my foot on board of a
British ship-of-war’s boat; and it will be, I hope, a very long time
before I again volunteer to go a cruise in one upon the enemy’s
coast--at all events on the coast of Dalmatia.

A very remarkable circumstance has occurred since you and I parted, and
would appear more like those unnatural tales of romance, of which we
read in novels, than anything founded in truth incontestable. You must
recollect the miserable and destitute plight in which our unfortunate
companion, poor Batley, was, when we were driven to the necessity of
leaving him at Rastadt: well, he was again arrested in Würtemberg, and
confined closely in a prison; whence, after some weeks, he had the good
fortune to outwit his keepers, and effect his escape. The poor fellow’s
funds were now nearly exhausted, and little or no hope left him of ever
being able to succeed. In this forlorn state, quite desponding, and
overwhelmed with anguish, his singular appearance--you know what a tall,
meagre, poor-looking creature “fat Jack” was--caught the eye of a lady
who happened to be passing at that moment on the road. Her benign
countenance gave him courage; he advanced and accosted her in his best
manner--for Jack had the manners and address of a gentleman--explained
to her candidly who he was, and his deplorable situation, and earnestly
begged she would assist him in prosecuting his journey to Trieste. Most
fortunately for him, this lady proved to be the wife of an officer at
that time in the British army. She entered fully into his distressed
condition, procured him the means which enabled him to reach Vienna;
thence he proceeded to Trieste, where he found your old ship _Amphion_
ready to sail for Malta, and arrived there only, he stated, a few
minutes before honest Hewson and you had quitted Malta in the
_Leonidas_, to join Lord Collingwood.

The ship which I was in touched at Gibraltar; and on landing there, the
first person I met was my long-lost friend Batley: never were two people
more surprised and better pleased to catch once more a sight of each
other. He immediately quitted his vessel, and engaged a passage in the
same ship with me, and we arrived safe in England together.

I remain, My dear O’Brien,

Your sincere friend,

_2nd April 1809._

_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_.

       *       *       *       *       *


 [1] The most celebrated bearers of the name were Donogh O’Brien, King
 of Thomond (1208-1244), and Earl Donough O’Brien (1577-1624), one
 of Queen Elizabeth’s few Irish loyalists and a noted fighter in her

 [2] One of the ships surrendered at the Texel in 1799.

 [3] I here feel it a duty to state, that, for the boats which we
 seized from the poor fishermen, bills of exchange were given to the
 full amount of their value upon the English Government.

 [4] Pointe St. Mathieu, on the left upon entering Brest.

 [5] The step is that part of the mast that fixes in the boat; the
 fore-tye, the rope by which the foresail is hoisted up.

 [6] He escaped, subsequently to me, with some other naval officers,
 from Bitche.

 [7] Probably the _Préfet Maritime_ of Brest is meant; the Minister of
 Marine would of course be at Paris.

 [8] In Sir Jahleel Brenton’s interesting _Autobiography_ the reader
 may find a long account of the misery prevalent among the British
 prisoners at Givet, and of the efforts which he took to get their
 grievances redressed.

 [9] He died at Port Mahon on the 25th of July 1811, having been
 mortally wounded on 28th June, the day of the storming of Tarragona by
 Marshal Suchet.

 [10] They made midshipmen, notwithstanding their officers were
 responsible for them, attend two _appels_, or musters, _per diem_; the
 not appearing at the exact time was formerly a fine of three livres
 (2s. 6d.), but afterwards the offenders were sent to Sarrelouis or
 Bitche, the depots of punishment.

 [11] This town is seated on the banks of the river Serre, in Picardy.
 We learned since that it is famous for serge manufactories.

 [12] Ashworth and Tuthill, as we shall see, were recaptured by the
 _gendarmes_ almost immediately. They were sent to Bitche and shared
 O’Brien’s captivity there. Ultimately they escaped, though not in our
 hero’s company, and made their way, like him, to Trieste, where they
 reached an English ship.

 [13] Certainly not Zürich, which is over thirty miles away, with some
 high ground between. Perhaps O’Brien means Schaffhausen.

 [14] The Ueberlinger See, or northern arm of the forked Boden See.

 [15] O’Brien’s political geography is all wrong here. Both Constance
 and his destination, Meersburg, were in Baden territory. Hence there
 was no frontier difficulty, or requisition for passports. He really
 crossed the Würtemberg and Bavarian frontiers without knowing it,
 during his night march between Meersburg and Lindau.

 [16] Erroneous geography. Meersburg, the town to which the ferry from
 Constance ran, is still in Baden.

 [17] Probably Fischbach in Würtemberg, seven miles east of Meersburg.
 O’Brien must have eluded the frontier guard without knowing it.

 [18] This would be Nonnenhorn, four miles west of Lindau, on the

 [19] But before I quitted the commandant’s presence, I took the
 liberty of assuring him, that even if I was sent back to France, I
 felt confident that, by the blessing of God, I should again effect my
 escape, and in which case I would write and inform him of my success.
 This I eventually did from Trieste. I recollect relating this anecdote
 to Lord Collingwood at his table on board the _Ocean_, his flag-ship,
 off Toulon, and at which he appeared highly pleased.

 [20] Evidently a slip for Munich, to which the application would be
 forwarded. Ulm is in Würtemberg, not in Bavaria.

 [21] This was probably the town of Stockach.

 [22] This small town had suffered greatly by fire, and had been lately
 entirely new built. It is situated on the Danube, thirty-three miles
 N.W. of Constance.

 [23] This is the person I alluded to as an exception, with the kind
 gaoler at Arras, to all others that I met with in France.

 [24] In the Franco-German war of 1870-71 Bitche was still so strong,
 even against modern artillery, that it maintained itself long after
 Strasburg, Metz, and all the other eastern fortresses had fallen, and
 was, along with Belfort, the only place where a really lengthy and
 obstinate defence was made.

 [25] For a full text of the proceedings of this court-martial, the
 reader may consult Mr. Ashworth’s account of his adventures, published
 in Nos. 28, 31, 33 of the _Naval Chronicle_.

 [26] Apparently Lauterburg.

 [27] Batley was destined to escape. For the details of his adventures
 see Barklimore’s letter in Appendix A.

 [28] It is impossible to say what O’Brien means by this. The
 hereditary prince of Baden, though in great favour with Napoleon, and
 married to Stephanie Beauharnais, his adopted daughter, was never made
 a king.

 [29] Pope, in the “Essay on Man.”

 [30] O’Brien alludes to the Wagram campaign, then only six months in
 the future.

 [31] Napoleon’s last wild extension of the Continental System provided
 that a neutral ship should be considered fair prize if it had visited
 a British port, or even been searched by a British cruiser.

 [32] This certificate I have still by me. It was given me by Lieut.
 Henry T. Lutwidge, our second lieutenant, a worthy officer, in Verdun,
 on 21st February 1807, and now a commander.

 [33] In November 1808, the date of O’Brien’s stay in Trieste, all the
 eastern shores of the Adriatic were French territory save the small
 strips of land about Trieste and Fiume, which were Austrian. Dalmatia
 and Istria, like the other old dominions of Venice, had been annexed
 to Napoleon’s kingdom of Italy. In 1809 the Emperor appropriated
 Trieste and Fiume also, after his victory over Austria at Wagram. Thus
 O’Brien, a year later, would have found Trieste French.

 [34] For this very serious wound, I have never received any pension,
 as it was not considered equivalent to the loss of a limb, when I was
 surveyed by order of the Lords of the Admiralty in May, 1817; and yet
 what is the difference between the loss of a limb, and the loss of the
 use of a limb?

 [35] _I.e._ the Mediterranean squadron, then under Lord Collingwood,
 engaged in the blockade of Toulon.

 [36] It appeared that the brigadier of _gendarmes_ had been invited by
 them to take a share of their dinner, on the very day that my letter
 had arrived. He handed Tuthill _this_ letter, saying it was not an
 English but a German one, and, contrary to the usual custom, he did
 not break the seal or inspect it: of course, it was not perused until
 after dinner, and after he had departed.

 [37] From Ashworth’s narrative in the _Naval Chronicle_, vol. xxviii.,
 it appears that he, with Tuthill, Brine, and two others escaped on 8th
 December, 1808, by means of a rope just similar to that which O’Brien
 had employed. They got safely off, and reached Trieste in February.

 [38] The reader will find in vol. v. of James’s _Naval History_ many
 similar extracts from this same source.

 [39] In order to realise the disparity of force, it is only necessary
 to give the list of the two squadrons--


 [The first three ships were of the French, the others of the Italian

  _Favorite_    40 guns  Commodore B. Dubourdieu.
  _Flore_       40  “    Captain J. Alexandre Péridier.
  _Danaë__      40  “    ?   ?      ?    ?
  _Corona_      40  “    Captain Paschaligo.
  _Bellona_     32  “    Captain Duodo.
  _Carolina_    32  “    Captain Palicuccia.

 With the _Mercurio_ brig (16 guns), a 10-gun schooner, a 6-gun xebek,
 and two gunboats.


  _Amphion_     32 guns  Commodore William Hoste.
  _Active_      38  “    Captain  J. A. Gordon.
  _Cerberus_    32  “    Captain  Henry Whitley.
  _Volage_      22  “    Captain  Phipps Hornby.

 Excluding the small vessels the enemy had 224 guns, the British 124!

 [40] This twenty-line sentence deserves note as being perhaps the
 longest in modern English literature.

 [41] In justice to an intrepid Gallic son of Neptune, who called forth
 general admiration, I must say that at the moment the _Flore_ made the
 effort to board the _Amphion_, a seaman appeared standing on her fore
 yard-arm, holding a fire-grapnel ready to hurl upon our decks; nor did
 he quit his perilous position until dislodged by our musketry, after
 several balls had struck the grapnel, when he flung it, but, being
 too far off, without effect, and, hastening to the opposite yard-arm,
 jumped overboard. The ultimate fate of this heroic fellow we could
 never learn, but I fear he must have perished.

 [42] The guns being double-shotted.

 [43] This letter Captain Hoste afterwards forwarded, under a flag of
 truce, to the captain of the _Flore_, to which an answer was written
 by the captain of the _Danaë_, stating the inability of M. Péridier
 to reply on account of his wound, and denying that the _Flore_ had
 struck; but the _Danaë’s_ captain, as if ashamed of his name, sent his
 letter without a signature.

 [44] See Appendix, No. II.

 [45] This was the midshipman who made the sketch from which the
 illustration facing page 314 is reproduced.

 [46] Captured by the _Constitution_, Aug. 19, 1812. The American
 frigate was decidedly a larger and stronger vessel, yet hardly enough
 so to justify O’Brien in calling her a “leviathan.”

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

but this was considerable preferable=> but this was considerably
preferable {pg 69}

the goaler’s wife=> the gaoler’s wife {pg 178}

with it broad expanse=> with its broad expanse {pg 229}

quitting the territory of Wurtemberg=> quitting the territory of
Würtemberg {pg 245}

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